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Working Women 




Fellow of University College London. 


P. S. KING & SON, 







Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

Microsoft Corporation 



The Economic Position of Educated Work- 
ing Women. Read to the South Place 
Ethical Society, February, 1890 . . . i 

Prospects . of Marriage for Women. The 

Nineteenth Century, April, 1892 . . • 27 

The Expenditure of Middle Class Working 
Women. The Economic Journal , December, 
1898 .66 

The Age Limit for Women. The Contemporary 

Review y December, 1899 . . . .90 

Mrs. Stetson's Economic Ideal. The Charity 

Organization Review y March, 1900 . . .114 

Through Fifty Years: The Economic Pro- 
gress OF Women. Frances Mary Buss Schools' 
Jubilee Magazine, November, 1900 . . '134 

" Because^ precisely, Pm an artist, sir. 
And woman, if another sate in sight, 
Pd whisper, — Soft, my sister I not a word I 
By speaking zve prove only we can speak, 
Which he, the man here, never doubted. What 
He doubts is, whether we can do the thing 
With decent grace, we^ve not yet done at all. 
Now, do it ; bring your statue, — you have room I 
Hill see it even by the starlight here ; 
And if ^tis ier so little like the god 
Who looks out from the marble silently 
Along the track of his oiun shining dart 
Through the dusk of ages, theris no need to speak ; 
The universe shall henceforth speak for you. 
And witness, * She who did this thing, was born 
To do it, — claims her license in her work^ 
And so with more works. Whoso cures the plague. 
Though twice a wo?nan, shall be called a leech : 
Who rights a land^sf nances is excusea 
For touching copper, though her hands be white, — 
But we, we talk P^ 

" It is the age's mood " 
He said ; *' we boast, and do not. " 

E. B. Browning.— " Aurora Leigh," Book viii 


The six essays brought together in this 
small volume, in the order in which they 
were written, leave many questions, still 
warmly debated with regard to working 
women, almost untouched. The point of 
view of the writer is circumscribed by the 
conditions set forth in the first two chapters, 
which, true in 1891, may have a narrower or 
a wider application as time goes on. The 
position of women in the small section of 
the community known as the middle classes 
is there shown to be exceptional. The great 
majority of women belong to the working 
classes and spend their youth as wage- 
earners, in many cases under conditions 
injurious to mind and body, although the 
real work of their lives is eventually to be 
found in their own homes. With middle- 
class women the position is reversed. To 


those who have once realised what a large 
number of them may have to be self-sup- 
porting, the constant problem henceforth 
is to discover how the lives of educated 
women may be made of more value to 
themselves and others. The cost and reward 
of efficiency are therefore the two factors 
which in this little book are treated as 
being of primary, although not necessarily 
of greatest, importance. 

The author begs to express her thanks 
to the Editors of the Nineteenth Century^ 
Economic Journal^ Contemporary Review^ and 
Charity Organization Review^ for permission 
to republish the articles which appeared in 
their magazines. 

C. £. C. 




February^ iSgo.^r ^ orTHp' ^ 

Mrs. Browning's advice to women, much 
needed as it is at the present time, was some- 
what harsh and unpractical at the time she 
gave it, more than thirty years ago. At that 
time it would not have been possible for a 
woman '^ to prove herself a leech and cure 
the plague''; for on the one hand she was 
debarred from obtaining the necessary qualifi- 
cations, and on the other she was prohibited 
from practising without them. The hospitals 
and lecture rooms were closed to her by 
prejudice, and practice was therefore for- 
bidden her by Act of Parliament. Even 
had she obtained admittance to the dissect- 
ing room and hospital by quiet perseverance 

E.W. B 


and tried ability, she could not have hoped 
by such means alone to remove the obstacles 
which were placed in her path by legislation. 
The charters necessary to empower the 
Universities to confer degrees on women 
could never have been obtained, except 
through determined agitation ; and if the 
agitators themselves did not seem com- 
petent to exercise the powers which they 
wished conferred on women, they performed 
the work for which they were most com- 
petent and made the path clear for those 
who could not have removed the obstacles 
themselves. The poet and the novelist had 
no such difficulties to contend with. Such 
women had no greater hardships to endure 
than men. If men disbelieved that a woman 
could write a powerful novel, she had only 
to do it to convince them of the contrary. 
-But, generally speaking, women were pro- 
hibited from doing what they could, on the 
\ ground that they could not if they would. 
It was not universally so ; in many cases 
girls who showed mathematical or logical 
power, for instance, were discouraged from 
exercising it, because reasoning power was 


considered undesirable in women and likely 
to hinder their chances of marriage. But, 
on the whole, women's incapacity for intel- 
lectual work was put forward as a reason for 
forbidding them to attempt it. The futility 
of forbidding women to do what they were 
incapable of doing was never perceived by 
the opponents of the movement for the 
higher education of women, who based their 
opposition on this ground. Nor did it avail 
much to point this out. Behind this asserted 
disbelief in the power of the educated woman 
to compete even with the average schoolboy, 
lay a real conviction, that if she could do so 
successfully, the more desirable it was to 
prevent her having the chance of proving it. 
It is on record that in the days of King 
Ahasuerus, more than 2,000 years ago, great 
terror was excited lest ^^the deed of Vashti 
should come abroad unto all women, so that 
they should despise their husbands in their 
eyes, when it should be reported that the 
King Ahasuerus commanded Vashti, the 
queen, to be brought in before him, but she 
came not. And in order that all wives 
should give to their husbands honour, both 

B 2 


to great' and small, Ahasuerus sent letters 
into all the King's provinces, that every man 
should bear rule in his own house/' As in 
the days of King Ahasuerus, so thirty years 
ago it was felt that humility in women 
should be cultivated at all costs, and if they 
became aware that all men were not neces- 
sarily their intellectual superiors they would 
break out into open revolt. Women had 
been told that they should obey their hus- 
bands because the latter knew best. If that 
were denied, the claim to obedience would 
have to rest on the possession of might 
instead of right. 

This reiterated assertion of their inferiority 
has rankled in women's hearts. For the 
last forty years it has been the source of 
most of the bitterness expressed openly on 
the platform, and the cause of invidious 
comparisons leading to mutual and undig- 
nified recriminations. It has affected the 
direction towards which the efforts of educa- 
tional enthusiasts have been turned. Their 
one aim and object has been to show that 
capacities supposed to be essentially mascu- 
line are possessed by women also ; to make 


it possible for women to compete on equal 
terms with men and to prove that they are 
not always the last in the race. 

That the question of equality or inferiority 
was a wholly irrelevant one was not their 
fault ; they had to answer the arguments of 
those who held the keys, and they were not 
to blame if these arguments were foolish. 
We owe much to the women who, at the 
risk of great unpopularity and much social 
loss, fought the battles by which the doors 
were opened, through which others passed 
without one effort of their own. It is 
because their work has been successful, not 
from any depreciation of its value, that I 
maintain that it is time to review the out- 
come of the last ten or twelve years, during 
which women have been free to compete 
with men in the College and the University, 
and to take a new departure. London and 
Cambridge have admitted them to examina- 
tions on equal terms, although the latter 
still refuses them the hall-mark of the 
degree. Newnham and Girton have had to 
extend their premises ; Lady Margaret and 
Somerville have been established and have 


obtained some concessions from Oxford ; 
University College, London, Mason's Col- 
lege, Birmingham, the Welsh Colleges, and 
other men's colleges, admit women to their 
class rooms on equal terms with men. 
London, Ireland, and Edinburgh admit 
them to their medical degrees ; the Women's 
School of Medicine is prosperous, and they 
have admission to a few hospitals. At 
London and Cambridge they have done 
themselves credit in every branch, i So far 
as receptive power is concerned, it is now 
at least admitted that the rather-above-the- 
average woman is quite on a level with the 
average man. So far, so good. But 
although our self-respect may be consider- 
ably increased, what is our economic 
position ? There are not yet 800 women 
graduates of London and Cambridge. Of 
these the majority are assistant mistresses 
in public or private schools, visiting teachers, m 
lecturers, or head mistresses. There were 
in 1881, according to the census of that 
year, 123,000 women teachers, and over 
4,000,000 girls between the ages of five 
years and twenty ; and yet already this little 


handful of graduates is told that it is in 
excess of the demand and that it must take 
lower salaries in consequence. In our 
public high schools not one in four teachers 
is a graduate ; in private schools the propor- 
tion is much smaller. I do not propose to 
discuss this question, and will only make 
two remarks on it. The first, that after an 
expensive college course, which is only less 
expensive than that of a man because a 
woman is less extravagant in her personal 
expenditure, a Girton or Newnham student 
who has taken a good degree may hope for 
an initial salary of £10^ to ;^I20 non- 
resident, rising by very slow degrees to 
about ;)f 140 to ;^i5o a year. Secondly, that 
every graduate should remember that when 
she accepts a lower rate still, she is making 
it easier to lower the salaries of the great 
majority below her. If all women graduates, 
and they are not many, agreed to a minimum, 
less than which they would not accept, the 
mass of teachers, already underpaid, could 
not be told as they are at present, that 
graduates could easily be obtained for the 
sum they ask. The teacher with a higher 


local certificate could hold out for her j^go 
a year, little enough in all conscience, 
because she would know that no graduate 
would take less than ;^ioo. 

But the head mistress engages so few 
graduates, not merely because of the higher 
salary demanded, but because she is quite 
content, or rather because the British parent 
is quite content, that his daugh^r should be 
taught by less competent persons. If we look 
for the cause of this indifference, we shall find 
that he does not attach the slightest value 
to the education which she is receiving. For 
some unknown reason girls seem to think it 
absolutely necessary to learn Latin ; he does 
not wish his daughter to be at any dis- 
advantage with other girls ; therefore he lets 
her learn Latin. If other girls are taught 
well, his daughter must be taught well ; but 
if other girls are taught badly, he is quite 
content that his daughter should be so also. 
He perhaps learned Latin himself for some 
similar reason at school, and so far as he 
knows he derived no benefit from it, and he 
is quite certain he derived no enjoyment 
from it. The mass of parents do not wish 


their daughters to be teachers ; and they 
pertinently ask, what good are classics and 
the higher mathematics and advanced natural 
science to girls unless they intend to teach ? 
A few can answer honestly, *^We enjoy the 
study. It is delight to us. Plato, Sophocles, 
iEschylus speak to us with a more living 
voice than any of our modern thinkers. 
Mathematics is not merely a discipline to 
us but an absorbing occupation, taking us 
completely out of ourselves for the time 
being. A natural science is to us not a 
mere mass of ascertained facts unrelated to 
each other, but a system of interdependent 
laws giving a new meaning to life ; its very 
incompleteness is a charm, for it gives us 
the opportunity of being ourselves dis- 
coverers." A few can say this honestly; 
several, under the influence of a teacher 
whom they adore with that schoolgirl devo- 
tion so common in our high schools, persuade 
themselves that they feel some of the enjoy- 
ment that a properly-constituted mind would 
feel. What they really enjoy is the teacher's 
enjoyment, which is infectious. There is no 
subject so dry or so useless that a living. 


healthy, human teacher cannot persuade girls 
to think it interesting for the time being. But 
the majority of girls — and boys too for that 
matter — are Philistines and care for none of 
these things. They do their work conscien- 
tiously enough, because it is their work. 
They derive benefit from it as from a kind of 
mental gymnastics, and so far as their school 
days are concerned no harm is done, and 
they have benefited by the mental discipline. 
When a girl or boy is about seventeen, the 
future career is considered. In the case of 
a son, the father to some extent takes into 
account the boy's natural bent, and also the 
chances of obtaining a post for him. Thence- 
forth his education takes a definite direction. 
If intended for one of the professions, the 
course is easily mapped out. In other cases 
the boy may be sent to the University, not 
so much for an academic as for a social 
training ; very frequently he leaves school 
and at once begins his training for business 
or mercantile pursuits. If his father is a 
merchant, or large employer of labour, he 
will perhaps be sent elsewhere to learn all 
parts of his business/ and then take some 



responsible post in his father's firm. If 
this is impossible, relatives or friends or 
business connections may be able to offer 
him a post, and no stone is left unturned. 
There is no question either of his being 
content to have a low salary because he can 
live at home. Nor does he, if he has any 
sense, deliberately choose to enter an over- 
stocked market, merely because the men 
who succeed in it are admitted to be men 
of high intelligence. If he has a high 
opinion of his own talents, or if he prefers 
shining by reflected light to earning an 
income, he does perhaps become a barrister 
or a doctor, without much fitness for the 
profession. But at least those who take up 
business prefer to enter a labour market 
where there are comparatively few men of ^ 
ability yet to be found, and where the supply 
of them is not so great as the demand. 

The girl of seventeen is never helped in 
the same way, in many cases because it has 
never occurred to men that girls could be so 
assisted. There are many other reasons, 
which I do not propose to dwell on here. 
I am not addressing myself to those who 


do not wish women to earn their living, but 
to those who, having accepted the fact that 
many girls must work for a living, would 
be glad to help them in any way that might 
be suggested ; and I am also speaking to 
those women who prefer, no matter what 
their private resources may be, to be trained 
for some occupation which will call for the 
exercise of mental powers which they know 
they possess. I am also confining my 
remarks to working women educated for 
their work in life, and am not referring to 
the large numbers of women who take up 
work without any other training than the 
general education acquired at school. If 
the woman, who from seventeen to twenty- 
two has been trained for her profession, 
cannot obtain the salary which, as Mr. 
Pollard has shown, is necessary to keep 
her in good health and provide for her old 
age, there is no need to say that the un- 
trained schoolgirl enters the labour market 
at a greater disadvantage. Now, on what 
principles is a girl's career determined ? In 
a large number of cases the parents take it 
for granted that she will be married in a few 


years, and they feel they can support her at 
home in comfort until then. Fortunately the 
girl herself does not always take this view ; 
she thinks it quite possible that she never 
will be married, and she also sees that in 
that case she may in middle life be left with 
an income quite inadequate and necessitating 
a total change in her habits of living. If she 
has any public spirit, she will not undersell 
her poorer competitors, and will see no reason 
why she should not be paid the full worth of 
her services ; she will be glad to know that 
her services are really worth her living. But 
all that she sees before her, unless she has 
exceptional talent, is teaching. It is the 
same with girls who have to earn their living 
and whose parents can only afford to give 
them an expensive training in the hope that 
a remunerative income may afterwards be 
obtained. They also must be teachers ; it 
is the only brain-work offered them, and 
badly paid as it is, it is better paid than 
any other work done by women. The result 
is that we see girls following the stream and 
entering the teaching profession ; after a few 
years, growing weary and sick of it, tired of 


training intellects, and doubtful about the 
practical value of the training, or altogether 
careless of it ; discontented with a life for 
which they are naturally unsuited, and seeing 
no other career before them. We see others, 
who have a strong practical bent, giving 
themselves up to purely intellectual studies, 
because they are the only ones possible to 
them ; and, on the other hand, clever girls, 
who have no scholastic ambitions, are left 
to fritter away their talents or exercise them 
with no aid but rule-of-thumb principles to 
guide them. The prizes, the exhibitions, 
the glory are all given to encourage scholar- 
ship. Brain-power is worshipped, and as 
people with brains are not encouraged to 
exercise them in a practical direction, the 
possession of brain-power is not ascribed to 
those who do not display capacity or liking 
for classics or mathematics or the abstract 
sciences. And the whole tendency is to com- 
pete with men where men are strongest. 
And here, socially, morally, and economi- 
cally, we are making a great mistake. We 
are narrowing women to one kind of educa- 
tion, which would cut off the majority of them 


from sympathy with the men in their own 
class ; they imbibe a false idea that culture 
means the possession of useless knowledge ; 
and because men in the commercial world 
have a knowledge which enables them to 
perform services for which others are willing 
to pay, they are regarded as necessarily 
uncultured and mercenary. The leisured 
and professional classes take the precedence 
in the girl-graduate's eyes as being better 
educated and having less sordid aims. But, 
fortunately for England, the majority of men 
are neither leisured nor professional, and the 
organisation of industry and the extension 
of commerce give scope for the exercise of 
the highest powers. Socially, therefore, the 
educated woman at present is isolated from 
her class and suffers in consequence Morally 
she suffers, for she is not developing her 
natural powers. A woman's emotional nature 
is different from a man's, her inherited experi- 
ence is different, her tastes are different, and 
— greatest heresy of all nowadays — her 
intellect is different. It is a common thing 
to say that there is no sex in intellect. If 
the upholders of this theory mean that from 


two given premisses the same conclusion 
must be drawn by men and women when- 
ever they think rightly, of course no one 
can deny it. But this purely deductive work 
can be done by machinery. The real work 
of intelligence is the induction which supplies 
the premisses, the selection of premisses suit- 
able to the purpose in view and the applica- 
tion of the conclusion. The working of 
intelligence is prompted, strengthened, and 
directed by interest and emotion ; and here 
it is that men and women differ, and always 
will differ, a woman inheriting as she does, 
with a woman's nervous organisation, a 
woman's emotional nature. It is on this 
difference between men and women, amidst 
much which is common to both, that I build 
my hopes of women's success in the future. 
I do not urge women to compete with men 
because they can do what men can, but 
because I believe they can do what men 
cannot ; and I believe that those branches 
in which men have attained the highest 
pitch of excellence are those in which women 
are least likely to find pleasure or excel. 
Creditable as have been their performances 


in the Mathematical Tripos, I am glad to 
see that their success in the Natural Science 
Tripos is much greater. Instead of glorying 
in having once in a score of years a Senior 
Classic, I take pride in the fact that in the 
four years since the Mediaeval and Modern 
Language Tripos was instituted, women 
have always been in the front rank, and I 
notice with fear and trembling that, although 
during the first three years there was always 
a woman in the first class, and no men, last 
year, although there was no deterioration in 
the women's work, they did not have the first 
class all to themselves. I look forward to the 
day, but I hope it will be long before it comes, 
when the men's colleges shall rejoice because 
they have a man in the first class without a 
woman to share the honours. There are 
many things which men are doing alone, 
which could be done infinitely better if edu- 
cated women helped them ; and nowhere is 
this more obvious to me, although probably > 
not to them, than in business. While there 
is much that can be done well by the human 
being, indifferently, whether man or woman, 
there is much that can only be done well by 

E.W. c 


the male human being, much that can only 
be done well by the female human being, and 
much that can only be done well by the two 
in conjunction. And if men in business only 
considered their daughters' future in the same 
light as that of their sons, they would find 
many branches of business in which they 
could be most useful, and earn a good income. 
Girls inherit, to some extent, their intellectual 
capacities from their fathers, just as boys do 
from their mothers. And many a bright, 
clever, lazy girl would suddenly develop a 
most unexpected taste for study, if she had 
before her the prospect of doing practical, 
and to her most interesting work, as one of 
her father's managers, or as foreign corre- 
spondence clerk, or as chemist or artistic 
designer in a large manufactory ; or as 
assistant steward on her father's property, 
or as a farmer on her own freehold, if (rents 
having gone down) he is unable to leave her 
an income. For all these a course of hard 
mental training is necessary or at least desir- 
able ; and the girl would be receiving culture 
on the one hand, and would have a chance 
of developing her natural gifts on the other. 


Many a girl, accustomed to a country life, 
would much prefer the occupations and life 
of a farmer to that of a teacher, provided she 
is allowed to have the college life and the 
free intercourse with other girls which is the 
main attraction of Girton and Newnham. 
The work would be far more interesting to 
her if she came to it with the enthusiasm 
of a scientist with theories to be tested. 
What is drudgery to an uneducated person 
may often be pleasurable to an educated 

No one can study the organisation of 
industry at the present time without noticing 
that there is great room for improvement. 
Good organisers are extremely rare ; and 
even in the internal management of a fac- 
tory, perhaps the least important part of the 
work of a great manufacturer, much could 
be done which is rarely done at present. 
The admittance of educated women to a 
share in factory management should really 
be regarded in the light of co-operation with 
men, not competition with them. A man 
and a woman looking at a work-room are 
struck by different features, and each can be 

c z 


suggestive to the other. This is especially 
the case wherever women are employed. 

The question of capacity is a more difficult 
one for me to answer, but an easier one for 
the individual girl, if she is not afraid of 
ridicule. And it is at this point that I 
would reiterate Mrs. Browning's advice. 
To any really clever girl who asked me for 
advice as to her future work I should say, 
^^ What do you think you could do best if it 
were possible for you to do it ? Whatever 
that is, do your very best to get training in 
it, to show by capacity at one stage that 
you could master the next if you had the 
chance. If you do this, you will find that 
the men who laughed at women for thinking 
of doing such work will frequently be the 
very ones to make an exception in your favour 
and to help you over the next difficulty. 
If you wish to be a farmer, and to study 
every department of your work and be 
thoroughly grounded in agricultural science, 
make the best of your opportunities where 
you are, attend classes if possible in the 
technological department of a good college ; 
and if the agricultural colleges are closed to 


women, when you have done everything you 
can without them, get one of them to make 
an exception in your favour. Whatever it 
may be that you wish to do, prepare your- 
self for it, and, instead of bemoaning the 
ill-treatment of women in general, persuade 
those in authority of your fitness in particu- 
lar. And when you have gained your end 
help every girl you can who shows similar 

One effect on the economic position of 
educated working women of such an exten- 
sion of employment would be to enable them 
to measure their value. Teachers are paid 
out of fixed income, and their salaries are 
almost entirely determined by standard of 
living. If employed in business they would 
be employed for profit, and if they increased 
profits their value would rise, and could be 
measured ; they would be paid according to 
their worth and not according to their stan- 
dard of living. Education would be better 
adapted to practical needs, and teachers 
would be held in higher honour accordingly. 
Large numbers of clever girls would be 
spurred to exertion, whose intellectual 


powers have hitherto lain in abeyance, 
because no education was offered them 
corresponding to their needs. There are 
other arts, which women already practise, 
which it would be well for them to study on 
a scientific basis. Not only the future wife, 
mother, and housekeeper needs a knowledge 
of physiology, the laws of health, and domestic 
economy, but to a still greater extent the 
future Poor Law guardian, Board School 
manager, factory and workshop inspector, 
and sanitary officer; and both household 
manager and public officer should study the 
relation between domestic and national 
economics. Nor can any man do a greater 
injury to women in this respect than by 
placing a woman in a responsible post for 
which she has not been proved competent. 
The incapacity of a man is referred to the 
man himself; that of a woman is credited to 
the sex. But although a man may foolishly 
vote for a woman to be placed on the School 
Board or Board of Guardians merely because 
she is a woman, without knowing anything 
about her, I am not afraid that he will ever 
give her a well-paid post in his own business 


unless she is fit for it. Women who give 
their services for nothing are rarely told the 
truth ; it will be a good thing for them when 
they receive, instead of flattery and thanks, 
criticism and payment. 

I can only touch on one point more. I 
may be told that the effect of encouraging all 
girls, who display strength of character or 
intellectual power above the average, to 
make themselves pecuniarily independent, 
and to devote their energies to some special 
and definite occupation which will call forth 
their powers, will be to make them too 
absorbed or unwilling to enter upon marriage, 
and that the next generation must suffer 
from the strongest and most intellectual 
women holding aloof from wifehood and 
motherhood. Others, on the other hand, 
may say that their work will suffer, 
because the expectation of marriage will 
hinder them from doing their best. The 
latter objection will not, I think, be supported 
by those who are acquainted with the work 
of women graduates. There is much truth ^4 
in the former one. Women who have been 
Uained for a special work, and who like 


their work, .either do not marry at all or 
marry comparatively late in life, and it may 
at first sight seem injurious to the race that 
this should be so. But I think this is a 
mistake. The men and women of the niost 
marked individuality do not make the best 
husbands and wives, especially if they marry 
before they have become aware of their own 
character. Although a theory prevails to 
the contrary, I believe that women come to 
intellectual maturity later than men. They 
have a magnificent power of self-deception, 
of persuading themselves that they think and 
believe the things which those they care for 
think and believe — they are so little en- 
couraged to think for themselves that many 
a woman, married when but a girl, has later 
on discovered that she has a character of her 
own, hitherto unrevealed to herself and un- 
suspected by her husband. Marriage, as 
George Eliot has said, must be a relation of 
sympathy or of conquest. But such women, 
if sympathy has not really existed between 
them and their husbands, are never con- 
quered ; they may be slaves or rebels, but 
never loyal subjects ; and history is full of 


records of the disastrous early marriages of 
clever women. On the other hand, Hannah 
More, Jane Austen, Maria Edgeworth, 
Joanna Baillie, Caroline Herschell, Harriet 
Martineau, all women of brilliant intellect, 
have left their mark on history as good and 
happy women ; and we can all of us give a 
long list of such bright and contented lives 
from the unmarried women of our own 
acquaintance who have found their vocation. 
Mf they have missed the best in life, they 
have always been true to themselves^ The 
economic independence of women is as neces- 
sary to men's happiness as to women's. 
Their true interests can never be opposed 
or antagonistic, however much those of an 
individual man and woman may be. There 
is no hardship to women in working for a 
living ; the hardship lies in not getting a 
living when they work for it. And the great 
temptation from which all women should 
most earnestly strive to be freed is that which 
presents itself to so many at one time or 
another — the temptation to accept marriage 
as a means of livelihood and an escape from 
poverty. And if men would escape the 


degradation of being accepted by a woman 
in such a spirit, they should be anxious to do 
all in their power to make women free, to 
remove all obstructions raised by prejudice ; 
and when a woman can do anything worth 
doing, ^' to give her of the fruit of her hands 
and to let her own works praise her in the 


[prospects of marriage for 

April, 1892. 

A CENTURY has passed since Mary WoU- 
stonecraft published her *^ Vindication of the 
Rights of Women/' and Maria Edgeworth, 
with greater tact and knowledge of the 
world, pleaded for the higher education of 
women in her ^* Letters to Literary Ladies. '^ 
Whatever views we may hold as to the 
change, there can be no doubt that the 
modes of thought and of life of women in 
all classes have altered considerably, for 
good or for evil, in the last hundred years. 
It is, however, possible to exaggerate the 
change, and to be mistaken both as to its 
causes and its resulting tendencies ; and 
now that there are signs of a new departure, 
it may be as well to take stock and consider 
how we stand at present. 

First and foremost the question presents 
itself, How do women stand now with regard 


to that all-absorbing occupation obtained 
through marriage ? Their position in in- 
dustry is so vitally affected by their attitude 
towards marriage, and by the attitude of 
those around them, they are so constantly 
called upon to balance an industrial gain 
with social loss, that before all things it is 
necessary to see on what the expectation 
of marriage is grounded and the effect pro- 
duced by it on efficiency and wages. After 
marriage we should estimate not so much 
the effect of marriage on industrial position, 
but rather the effect of industry on domestic 

In calculating the possibilities of mar- 
riage on a statistical basis, the method 
is frequently adopted of subtracting all 
the widows from the population and point- 
ing out that in the remainder (the widowers 
not being subtracted) there is a slight surplus 
of men ; the moral is drawn that every 
woman can get married if she will only 
make herself agreeable, and not be too 
particular. Putting aside the practical 
objection that all men are not able to 
support a wife, and the sentimental one 


that numerical equality does not guarantee 
mutual attraction, this method of calculation 
ignores several important facts. One of 
these is the preference that men feel for 
women younger than themselves as wives 
and that women feel for men older than 
themselves as husbands. Granted an equal 
number of males and females between the 
ages of eighteen and thirty, we have not 
therefore in English society an equal number 
of marriageable men and women. Wherever 
rather late marriage is the rule with men — 
that is, wherever there is a high standard of 
comfort — the disproportion is correspondingly 
great. In a district where boy-and-girl mar- 
riages are very common, everybody can be 
married and be more or less miserable ever 
after ; but in the upper middle class equality 
in numbers at certain ages implies a surplus 
of marriageable women over marriageable 
men. Nor do equal numbers at the same 
age imply equal numbers in the same locality. 
Women's work and men's work cannot 
always be found in equal proportions in the 
same district ; and class habits may affect 
the stream of migration differently. The 



daughters of working-men go out to service 
or emigrate, while the daughters of well-to- 
do people stay at home ; while, on the other 
hand, the percentage of sons of professional 
men who go to the colonies or to India is 
probably much greater than the percentage 
of sons of working-men. There is a prob- 
ability, ' therefore, that the sexes will be 
distributed unequally in different districts 
and also in different classes of society. 


'Number of Females to 


100 Males 

















All ages... 









Under 5 \ 
years / 









5-10 ... 

105- 1 








10—15 ... 









15—20 ... 









20—25 ... 









25—30 ... 









30—35 ... 





108- 1 




35-48 ... 









45—55 ... 









Taking the Census returns for 1881, and 

comparing England and Wales with London, 

we find that, whereas in the former there 

were 105 females to 100 males, in the latter 

there were 112 females to 100 males. Here 

1 I have made no attempt to estimate the error intro- 
duced into the Census by falsehood. 


at once we have a marked local difference, 
and if we take special districts of London 
and compare them with each other we shall 
find a greater disparity. 

According to Mr. Charles Booth's classifi- 
cation in '' Labour and Life/'^ Kensington 
has 30*4 per cent, of middle and upper class 
people (classes G. and //.), Hackney 24*2, 
Islington 20*9, London 17*8, Pancras 15*2. 
The percentage of these classes in Shore- 
ditch, Bethnal Green, and Whitechapel is 
too small to be taken into account, but 
Shoreditch has 59*8 per cent. ^^ in comfort," 
while Bethnal Green has 55*4. The order 
of these districts is, therefore, exactly the 
same whether we arrange them according 
to preponderance of females over males, or 

1 For brevity I use the letters assigned by Mr. Booth to 
the various classes, with the signification he has attached 
to them, viz. : 

A, The lowest class of 

occasional labourers, 
loafers and semi- 

B. Casual earnings. 

C, Intermittent earnings. 

D. Small regular earnings. 

In Com/or/. 

E. Regular standard earn- 


F. Higher-class labour. 

G. Lower middle class. 
H, Upper middle class, etc. 


according to well-being. Whitechapel is 
set apart from the rest, most probably by' 
the peculiar effects of the Jewish immigra- 
tion. Putting aside for the moment the 
question whether the preponderance is 
entirely due to the servant class, there can 
be little doubt that it is connected with the 
servant-keeping classes. Between the ages 
of thirty-five and forty-five the merely 
migrant portion of the community seem to 
have disappeared, large numbers of shop- 
assistants, domestic servants, etc., having 
married and settled down amongst their 
own class. Between these ages but a small 
percentage of unmarried people marry ; they 
are, or should be, in the prime of life, and 
for several reasons it is a period to notice, 
especially in estimating the proportion of 
men or women who remain unmarried. 

It is difficult to decide whether we should 
compare the number of unmarried women 
with the number of married women only, or 
with the number of married women and 
widows. If our object is to find the per- 
centage of women who marry, widows should 
be included with married women ; if we wish 



to estimate the number of women who may 
have to support themselves, a large number 
of widows should be added to the number of 
spinsters. Except for the age period from 
35 to 45, widows are not considered here 
at all.i 


-Unmarried Women to lOO Married Women, 

'^ 5^ 






"^ • 








03 'O 



All ages ... 






























25—35 ••• 










88—48 ... 










Unmarried v 

women to 

100 married 
women and 











35-45 ^ 

In this table, which deals with women 
only, Whitechapel would take its right place 
between St. Pancras and Shoreditch, as in 
Mr. Booth's classificatioii, indicating that the 

1 No allowance has been made for false returns as to 
civil condition. Men in the wealthier districts who return 
themselves as single, although supporting women in 
another class, should be regarded as married; but the 
women themselves for the present purpose are rightly 
treated as married or widowed in accordance with their 
Census returns. 

E.W. D 


abnormal figures in the other table are due 
to a preponderance of male immigrants over 
female immigrants of a race which prevents 
inter-marriage with the English population. 
England and Wales takes its place, so far as 
the ratio at the age of 35 to 45 is concerned, 
after St. Pancras, from which the inference 
may be drawn that London either possesses 
a larger percentage of the servant-keeping 
classes, or that these classes employ more 
servants than is the case in England and 
Wales. Both the tables show that we are 
right in selecting the age-period 35 — 45, 
when men and women have left off marrying, 
and have not begun dying, for special study 
in connection with industry or marriage. 

In all England and Wales, then, the pro- 
portion of women who may be expected to 
remain unmarried is, roughly speaking, one 
in six; in London it is one in five. The 
important question arises. Are these chances 
equally distributed ? On the face of it, it 
would seem not ; but people readily point 
out that the greater ratio of middle-aged 
spinsters in Kensington, Hackney, and 
Islington, as compared with Shoreditch or 


Bethnal Green, is easily explained by the 
number of servants who naturally, if un- 
married at this age, congregate in the richer 
districts, but would, if distributed among the 
working-class districts, make the ratios fairly 
equal. The explanation sounds so plausible, 
that, were it not that experience has con- 
vinced me that in the educated middle class 
there is a surplus of women over men above 
the average, I should have accepted it with- 
out further inquiry. But by a study of the 
Census for 1861 (in many respects an ideal 
one so far as the tabulation of facts is con- 
cerned) and of the unpublished official 
returns of 1881 for Shoreditch, Bethnal 
Green, Whitechapel, Hackney, and Ken- 
sington, I find that, supposing all the 
middle-aged indoor domestic servants to 
be single, they nevertheless are not more 
than one-third of the single women in each 
district. Of the outdoor domestic servants, 
such as charwomen, the percentage under 
25 years of age is so very small that it may 
fairly be assumed that the great majority are 
married women or widows, and that the 
exceptions to this rule will be balanced by 

D 2 


the exceptions to the rule that the middle- 
aged indoor domestic servants are single 
women. Shoreditch and Bethnal Green 
(with almost exactly equal populations) give 
us together a ratio of ii'6 unmarried women 
between 35 and 45 to 100 married women at 
that age as the normal for a working-class 
district without any upper middle class. 
Kensington (including Paddington), with a 
population of 270,000, contains 70 per cent, 
of working-class inhabitants ; the surplus 
women, whether servants or otherwise, are 
to be found in the houses of the 30 per cent, 
of middle and upper-class inhabitants. 
Roughly speaking, then, to every 70 working- 
class married women in Kensington we may 
assign 8 unmarried women, and to the 
remaining 30 married women between 35 and 
45 years of age we must assign 54 unmarried 
women. To every 76 working-class married 
women in Hackney we may assign g un- 
married women at this age-period, leaving 18 
unmarried women to the remaining 24 
married women. One-third of these being 
domestic servants, if we subtract them, we 
have left in Kensington in Classes G and H 36 


unmarried women to 30 married women, and 
in Hackney 12 unmarried women to 24 
married women. It follows, therefore, that 
in Kensington, excluding domestic servants, 
more than 50 per cent, of the women between 
35 and 45 in the servant-keeping classes are 
unmarried, while in Hackney about 33 per 
cent, of the same class are unmarried. 

The servant-keeping classes, as I have 
described the groups that Mr. Booth has 
called Classes G and H, include everyone 
with an income of ;;/^i5o a year and upwards, 
and, were statistics available, it might per- 
haps be shown that the unmarried women 
are, to a large extent, the daughters of clerks 
and professional men. The tradesman class 
do not find it nearly so difficult to provide 
for their sons and set them up in business as 
is the case in the salaried class ; and it is an 
advantage from an industrial point of view 
for tradesmen to have wives who can help 
them in various ways. Emigration is prob- 
ably more frequent in the salaried class ; 
and where the sons are obliged to emigrate, 
it frequently happens that the daughters have 
to work for their living. In this class I 



believe the inequality of the sexes is greatest, 
and the probability of marriage least. In 
this class, therefore, the importance of an 
industrial training which shall enable women 
to earn a competency through all the active 
years of their life, which shall enable them 
to remain efficient workers and to provide for 
old age, is greater than in any other. 

As my object is not to point out how 
marriageable women may get married, but 
to show that a considerable number of 
women must remain unmarried, a table 
showing the inequality of numbers of the 
unmarried of both sexes in different districts 
in London is given. The districts are 
arranged in the order of poverty as calculated 
in 1889; the figures are from the Census of 

Unmarried Women 35 — 45 to every 100 Unmarried 
Men 35—45. 

Holborn . 



■ 137 

St. George's-in-East 




Bethnal Green . 


Westminster . 


St. Saviour's . 



. 116 

St. Olave's 


Islington . 

. 165 



St. Pancras 

• 135 




. 200 

Stepney . 








Strand . 


St Giles' . 




Mile End Old Town 


Hackney . 


Lambeth . 


St. George's, Hanover 





Fulham . 




Chelsea . 




As only one-third of these unmarried 
women are domestic servants, even if we 
suppose that all the unmarried men belong 
to Classes G and H, there are obviously not 
enough men for all the women to be able to 
marry. Such being the case, we can afford 
to dispense with mutual recrimination. The 
women who find it less dishonouring to enter 
the labour market than an overstocked 
marriage market are taking the more 
womanly course in putting aside all thought 
of marriage. The men who remain un- 
married are perhaps in the position of 
Captain Macheath, overwhelmed by an 
embarras de richesseSj and should be forgiven 
if they fear to make a choice of one which 

1 The common lodging-houses in St. Giles', the Wool- 
wich Arsenal, the Inns of Court and hotels in the Strand, 
and the Knightsbridge Barracks in St. George's, Hanover 
Square, may help to explain these exceptions to the rule. 


may seem to cast disparagement on so many 
others of equal merit. 

These statistics have been called startling 
and alarming. They may be startling to 
men, but can hardly be so to women of the 
upper class, and I fail to see why they should 
alarm anyone. If all these spinsters had to 
be shut up in convents the outlook would be 
gloomy. But as things are, if only we can 
secure good pay and decent conditions of 
life, the lot of all women may be immensely 
improved by this compact band of single 
women. It would be difficult to overrate 
the industrial eff'ect of a number of well- 
instructed, healthy-minded, vigorous perma- 
nent spinsters. A man's work is not inter- 
rupted but rather intensified by marriage ; 
but in the case of women, not only is the 
wages question very much aff*ected by the 
expectation of marriage, but much organised 
effort on their part, whether for improvement 
of wages or for provision against sickness 
and old age, must be wasted unless there be 
a considerable number of single women to 
give continuity to the management of their 
associations. Mr. Llewellyn Smith has 


pointed out that, as mobility of labour in- 
creases, actual movement may, other things 
remaining the same, diminish ; and so also I 
should be inclined to say that it is not 
marriage that is such a disturbing element 
in the women's wages question so much as 
the expectation of or desire for marriage. In 
the middle classes, where it is impossible to 
earn a sufficient income without a long train- 
ing and years of practical apprenticeship, 
nothing is so injurious to women's industrial 
position as this ungrounded expectation of 
marriage, which prevents them from making 
themselves efficient when young, and makes 
them disappointed, weary, and old when 
their mental and physical powers should be 
in their prime. 

With this profession of faith in the abso- 
lute necessity for the existence of single 
women I pass on to a brief review of the 
position of working women, considered in 
three groups, taking first of all those who 
belong to the classes whom Mr. Booth des- 
cribes as '' poor.'' Classes A, B, C, and D, 
who are 307 per cent, of the population of 
London; then the well-to-do artisans in 


Classes E and F, who are 51*5 per cent., 
and lastly the so-called middle and upper 
classes, who are 17*8 per cent., of London, 
and should therefore be designated the upper 

From the first of these groups are drawn 
the lower grades of factory girls in East 
London, who form the majority of match- 
girls, rope-makers, jam and sweetstuff- 
makers, and a considerable proportion of 
the box, brush, and cigar-makers, as well as 
of the less skilled tailoresses. The children 
when they leave school do not all go to 
work at once, but relieve their mothers or 
elder sisters of the charge of the ubiquitous 
baby, enabling the former nurse to go to the 
factory. They stagger about with their 
charges, or plant them securely on the 
coldest stone step they can find, and discuss 
with each other or with nursing mothers in 
their narrow street the births, deaths, mar- 
riages, misfortunes, and peculiarities of 
their neighbours. Their families live in one 
or, at most, two rooms, and their knowledge 
of life is such as to render Bowdlerised 
versions of our authors quite unnecessary. 



Sometimes the children take *^ a little place " 
as servant-girl, going home at night, but 
eventually, and generally before they are fif- 
teen, they find their way to the factory. By 
the time they are one-and-twenty at least 
a quarter of them have babies of their own 
to look after ; during the next five years the 
rCvSt, with but few exceptions, get married or 
enter into some less binding union. To 
show that I do not exaggerate the propor- 
tion of girl marriages in this class, I give a 
table of the number of girls married under 
21 years of age in every lOo marriages that 
took place in the seven years from 1878 to 
1884. The percentage has been calculated 
for each year, and the mean of the per- 
centage is given. 

Girls Married under 21 years of age in every 100 Mar- 
riages 1878 — 1884. 

Holborn . 

. 19-4 


. 18-9 

St. George'S'in- 

East . 2 2*9 

Westminster . 


Bethnal Green 

• 347 



St. Saviour's 

. 22*9 

Islington . 


St. Olave's 

. . 19-5 

St. Pancras 



. 20*9 




. 25-2 


• -^rs 

Stepney . 

. 21-8 




. i9'6 

St. Giles' . 



Mile End Old Town . 


Kensington . .12-9 

Lambeth . 


Hackney . . -13*9 



St. George's, Hanover 

Fulham . 


Square . . io'6 

Chelsea . 


Lewi sham . .12*1 

Strand . 


Hampstead . . 9*4 

As girl marriages are more common 
among the poorer half of East London, 
and as, unfortunately, in a large number of 
cases, the legal ceremony only takes place, 
if it takes place at all, in time to legitimise 
the offspring of the union, it is obvious that 
girl marriage is extremely common in the 
class of which I am speaking. When the 
husband earns regular wages, even though 
they may be small, the wife does not as a 
rule go to the factory, nor even take work 
out to do at home, for the first few years of 
her married life. But many factory girls 
return to work the day after they are married, 
and those who leave it for several years often 
return as soon as one of the children is old 
enough to leave school. Married labour is, 
of course, irregular labour, and many em- 
ployers discourage it as much as possible. 
But it is most to be deprecated on account 
of the effect on the children. It is unfor- 


tunate that the Census returns, as at present 
tabulated, give us no means of estimating 
the extent of the evil. We do not need to 
know whether men engaged in different 
occupations are married or single ; but there 
is no fact of more importance with regard 
to female labour, and the value of such a 
return would more than balance the expense. 
The factories where the work cannot be 
given out (as is the case in match, jam, and 
cigar factories) contain the largest percent- 
age of married women ; and if called upon 
to choose the less of two evils, married 
labour in the factory and home work, I 
should unhesitatingly decide in favour of 
home work, which, if well organised, need 
not even be an evil. 

The great need of this class is training 
for domestic life — by which I do not mean 
domestic service. Herein lies the only 
effective cure for the industrial and social 
miseries of the poor. The children are 
overworked, or else allowed to spend their 
time in a most dangerous idleness. That 
men should ask for an Eight Hours Bill 
when little girls of thirteen or fourteen may 


be found in our factories working ten hours 
seems unwise, if not selfish. Ten hours in 
a factory is not so wearing to a child as 
eight hours in school would be, but it is far 
too long. It makes education impossible, 
and leaves no room for surprise that married 
women in the poorest classes sink into a 
condition hardly above animalism. The 
two things which struck me most in East 
London were the amount of wasted intelli- 
gence and talent among the girls and the 
wretchedness of the married women. A 
secondary education in cooking, cleaning, 
baby management, laws of health, and 
English literature, should follow that of the 
Board School, and the minimum age at 
which full time may be worked should be 
gradually raised. By 1905 no one under 
sixteen should be working for an employer 
more than five hours a day, and all half- 
timers should be attending morning or 
afternoon school. The dock labourers' 
wives, having learnt to be useful at home, 
would appreciate how much is lost by going 
out to work. Their withdrawal from the 
labour market and the increased efficiency 


of their children, brought about by better 
home management and education, would 
both tend to raise wages, provided that a 
trade union existed to secure that the 
workers should keep the result of their 
increased efficiency. Bad cooking, dirty 
habits, overcrowding, and empty-headed- 
ness are the sources of the drunkenness, 
inefficiency, immorality, and brutality which 
obstruct progress among so many of the 
poor, and philanthropic efforts can be better 
employed in this direction than in any 

During the last four years the trade union 
movement, for which Mrs. Paterson worked 
so unwearyingly and with such dishearten- 
ingly small success, has made considerable 
progress in East London amongst this group. 
The principal results to be expected from 
trade unionism amongst these workers are 
not sufficiently obvious for large numbers to 
be attracted by them. But even a small 
union can be most useful in guarding against 
reductions and in bringing public opinion to 
bear upon employers who allow their fore- 
men ta exercise tyranny and make unfair 


exactions from their workpeople. The use- 
fulness of a trade union must be estimated 
in many cases by what it prevents from 
happening rather than by any positive 
advantage that it can be proved to have 

From the second group of working women 
are drawn our better-paid factory girls, our 
tailoresses, domestic servants, and a large 
number of our dressmakers and milliners, 
shop-assistants, barmaids, clerks, and ele- 
mentary teachers. A considerable number 
of dressmakers, shop-assistants, and clerks 
are, however, drawn from the lower middle 
class, and a few from the professional class. 
Although this second group is the largest 
group in London, and probably in England, 
it is the one about which we have least 
general information. They have hardly been 
made the subject of industrial inquiry, do not 
regard themselves as persons to be pitied, and 
work in comparatively small detachments. 
They are nevertheless of more industrial im- 
portance than the working women of the first 
group. Their work is skilled and requires an 
apprenticeship. They are in the majority of 


cases brought into direct contact with the con- 
sumer, and education, good manners, personal 
appearance and tact all raise their market 
value. In this second group would be in- 
cluded the majority of the Lancashire and 
Yorkshire weavers by anyone competent to 
deal with England as a whole ; and what 
applies to the group in London would not 
apply to this section of it, who occupy a 
unique position. The extent to which women 
compete with men is very much exaggerated. 
Of the three million and a half women and 
girls who were returned as occupied in 
industry in 1881 in England and Wales, 
over one-third were domestic indoor ser- 
vants, 358,000 were dressmakers, milliners, 
or stay-makers ; midwifery and subordinate 
medical service, charing, washing and 
bathing service, hospitals and institutions, 
shirt-making and sewing employed another 
400,000. The textile trades employed alto- 
gether only 590,624 women and girls, and 
of these over 300,000 were in the cotton 
trade. Their aggregation in large factories 
and in special locaHties has attracted to them 
an undue amount of attention, and the 

E.W. E 


history of industry in Lancashire is often 
given as the history of industry in England, 
whereas no other county is less typical. 

In London in 1881 the number of women 
and girls occupied in industry was 593,226. 
Of these, more than 40 per cent, were indoor 
domestic servants, more than 12 per cent, 
were engaged in charing, washing and 
bathing service and hospital and institution 
service, 16 per cent, in dressmaking, milli- 
nery, stay-making, shirt-making and needle- 
work ; and of the remaining miscellaneous 
trades a large proportion are purely women's 
trades ; even in those where men are em- 
ployed women and girls are rarely to be 
found doing the same work as men. Of 
domestic servants and charwomen there is 
no need to speak here. Of the laundresses 
a considerable proportion belong to the first 
group already discussed, but the ironers 
generally belong to the second group. An 
inquiry into their position with regard to 
wages, hours and sanitary conditions of work 
is about to be made, and the proposal to 
bring them under the Factory Acts cannot 
be considered until the results have been 


given us. Of the wages and hours of work 
of dressmakers and shop-assistants surpri- 
singly Httle information is at present avail- 
able. But one fact is too common to be 
denied : these girls accept wages which 
would not be enough to support them if they 
had not friends to help them ; and they en- 
dure hard work, long hours, and close rooms 
because they believe that they are only 
fining up a brief interval before marriage. 
The better off their parents may be, the less 
heed do they give to securing anything but 
pocket-money wages. These girls are con- 
stantly coming in contact with the rich, and 
have ever before their eyes the luxury and 
comfort of those who have money without 
working for it. They are taught to think 
much about dress and personal appearance, 
and are exposed to temptations never offered 
to the less attractive factory girls. They 
have naturally a higher standard of living, 
their parents cannot be relied upon to help 
them after the first few years, and, failing 
marriage, the future looks intensely dreary to 
them. There would be little harm in the 
high standard of comfort of single men in the 

E 2 


middle and upper classes which makes them 
regard marriage as involving self-denial, if 
working women all along the line were also 
earning enough to make them regard it in 
the same light. In a class more than any 
other Hable to receive proposals of a dis- 
honouring union, which may free them from 
badly paid drudgery, the greatest effort should 
be made to secure good wages. Combination 
is nowhere so much needed, and perhaps 
is nowhere so unpopular. And yet the diffi- 
culties of foreign competition which make 
attempts to raise wages among factory girls 
so unsafe, and which make it most undesir- 
able for outsiders, ignorant of trade circum- 
stances, to spread the '^ doctrine of divine 
discontent,'' are entirely absent here ; skilled 
hands are not so plentiful that they could 
easily be replaced, and the girls, if assisted 
by their friends, could well afford to bide 
their time quietly at home until they had 
secured good terms. 

There is no hard-and-fast line separating 
any group of workers from another. If 
social distinctions divide population into 
horizontal sections, industry cuts through 


these sections vertically. Class G., or the 
lower middle class, enter the upper branches 
of the industries to which I have referred. 
The girls here do not enter the factories 
or become domestic servants to any extent 
worth considering. They form the majority ,^ 
of the shop-assistants in the West End and 
the richer suburbs, and more than any other 
class supply the elementary schools with ' 
teachers. It is as teachers, and also as 
Civil Service clerks, that they join the upper 
middle class, including under that term the 
professional, manufacturing, and trading 
classes. In treating of this third group of 
working women I shall confine myself 
entirely to the position of women in class //., 
partly because my experience as a high- 
school teacher has brought me into special 
relations with girls and women of that class 
who have to earn their living, and partly 
because their unconscious even more than 
conscious influence on the habits and ideals 
of the girls in the lower middle class is very 

In every class but class //. the girls can, 
if they choose, enter industries conducted by 


employens with a view to profit. In the 
section of the factory class where the girls 
are obliged to be self-supporting there is 
a point below which wages cannot fall for 
any considerable period ; there is a point 
above which it would not pay the employers 
to employ them. The standard of living is, 
unfortunately, a very low one, and the wages 
are low ; but single women in this class can 
support themselves so long as they are in 
work. In the second group there is again a 
maximum height to which wages might be 
pushed by combination ; so long as it is 
profitable to employ them they will be 
employed, however high the wages demanded 
may be. But the minimum wage is not 
equivalent to the cost of living, but is rather 
determined by the cost of living minus the 
cost of house-room and part of the cost 
of food. In class H. women are not 
employed to produce commodities which 
have a definite market value, and have 
therefore no means of measuring their 
utility by market price. They nearly all 
perform services for persons who pay them 
out of fixed income, and make no pecuniary 


profit by employing them. And there is no 
rate at which we can say that the supply of 
these services will cease ; for the desire to 
be usefully employed is so strong in edu- i 
cated women, and their opportunities of 
being profitably employed (in the economic 
sense of the word ^^ profitable ") are so few, 
that they will give their services for a year 
to people as well off as themselves in return 
for a sum of money barely sufficient to take 
them abroad for a month or to keep them 
supplied with gloves, lace, hats, and other 
necessary trifles. Chaos reigns supreme. 
And while in this class it seems to be con- 
sidered ignoble to stipulate for good pay, 
strangely enough it is not considered dis- 
graceful to withhold it. Teachers are 
constantly exhorted to teach for love of 
their work, but no appeal is made to parents 
to pay remunerative fees because they love 
their children to be taught. 

The children of the upper and middle 
classes have their education partly given 
them by the parents of the assistant 
mistresses and governesses whom they 
employ. As a proof of this, I give a few 


particulars about the salaries and cost of 
living of the only section of educated 
working women in which some kind of 
order reigns — assistant mistresses in public 
and proprietary schools giving a secondary 
education. In these schools, of which a 
considerable number are under the manage- 
ment of the Girls' Public Day Schools 
Company and the Church Schools Company, 
while others are endowed schools or local 
proprietary schools, some University certifi- 
cate of intellectual attainment is almost in- 
variably demanded, and a University degree 
is more frequently required than in pri- 
vate schools or from private governesses. 
These assistant mistresses have nearly all 
clearly recognised, even when mere school- 
girls, that they must eventually earn their 
own living if they do not wish to spend 
their youth in maintaining a shabby appear- 
ance of gentility. They regard marriage as 
a possible, but not very probable, termina- 
tion of their working career ; but for all 
practical purposes relegate the thought to 
the unfrequented corners of their minds, 
along with apprehensions of sickness or old 

FOR WOMEN. ^ .^J,o^\V ' 57 

age and expectations of a legacy. They are 
women whose standard is high enough for 
them to be able to spend ;^200 a year 
usefully without any sinful waste. In the 
majority of cases they are devoted to their 
profession, for the first few years at leavSt ; 
and they only weary of it when they feel 
that they are beginning to lose some of 
their youthful vitality, and have no means 
of refreshing mind and body by social inter- 
course and invigorating travel, while at the 
same time the fear of sickness and poverty 
is beginning to press on them. There are 
not 1,500 of them in all England, and their 
position is better than that of any consider- 
able section of the 120,000 women teachers 
entered in the Census of 1881. The parti- 
culars that I give are from the report of a 
committee formed in 1889 to collect statistics 
as to the salaries paid to assistant mistresses 
in high schools. The critics of the report 
believe that the poorest paid teachers did 
not give in returns, and that the report gave 
too favourable an impression of the state of 
affairs. The number who gave information 
was 278. The return for the hours of work 


did not include the time spent in prepara- 
tion of lessons and study, both of course 
absolutely necessary for a good teacher. 

Summing up the results, we may say that, of the 
teachers who joined their present school more than two 
years ago, one-fourth are at present receiving an average 
salary of j[82 for an average week's work (the average 
including very large variations) of thirty-two hours ; half 
(25 per cent, of whom possess University degrees) are 
receiving an average salary of ;^ii8 for a week's work of 
about thirty-five hours ; and one-fourth (50 per cent, of 
whom are University graduates) are receiving an average 
salary of ^160 in exchange for a week's work of thirty- 
six to thirty-seven hours. These results do not appear 
unsatisfactory, but it must be remembered that under the 
phrase mo?'e than two years is covered a length of service 
extending in one case to as many as seventeen years, and 
of which the average must be taken as very nearly six. 
Many also of these teachers have had considerable ex- 
perience in other schools before entering the ones in 
which they are at present engaged. The condition of 
the teaching profession as a career for educated women 
may be summed up according to these averages, by saying 
that a teacher of average qualifications, who a few years 
ago obtained a footing in a high-class school, and has con- 
tinued working 171 the same school for six years, at the end of 
this time is hypothetically earning a salary of ;^i 18 a year 
by thirty-five hours' work a week for thirty-nine weeks in 
the year, or slightly over \s. %d. an hour. A result obtained 
from so many averages is, of course, entirely valueless as 
a guidance to any individual teacher, but affords a certain 
index to the pecuniary position of the profession as a whole. 


The prospects of the assistant mistress as 
she approaches middle age may be judged 
from the particulars of twenty-four instances 
in which a change of work had been attended 
by a fall of income. 

Three of these changes may be at once struck out as 
changes from the post of private governess, and three 
others do not lend themselves to easy comparison, 
because of great differences in the hours of work. Of 
the remaining eighteen teachers, five have now attained a 
higher salary than that formerly paid them, four have 
exactly regained their old income, while nine are still 
in receipt of a lower salary than that paid them at 
their last school. These figures point to a precarious- 
ness in the position of teachers which has to be seriously 
taken into account in estimating the prospects of the 

But there are many people who, like a 
certain clergyman's wife, think that girls are 
getting ^^ uppish nowadays '' when they hear 
that after three years at Girton and two 
years' experience in teaching, an assistant 
mistress refuses less than £120 a year. 
There are thousands of mothers like one 
who wanted a lady graduate as daily 
governess for her boys ^' quite regardless of 
expense," and who was even willing to pay 
;^30 a year ! Wealthy residents of Notting 



Hill and Kensington send their children to 
high schools whose managers dare not ask 
more than a maximum fee of ;^I5 a year. 
For their enlightenment I give the tables of 
cost of living compiled by Mr. Alfred Pollard 
with the aid of experts. Arithmeticians may 
amuse themselves with calculating in how 
many years a teacher, twenty-six years of age, 
with a salary of ;f 120, may, by saving £1^ 
a year, secure an annuity of £jo a year ; and 
may then attack the more interesting problem 
of the probabilities of any school retaining her 
in its employment for that length of time. 

Cost of Livifig* 





Board and lodging during 
term, say 40 weeks 

Half-rent during holidays ... 

Railway and other expenses 
for six weeks of holidays 
with friends 

Six weeks of holidays at own 

Educational books 


Petty cash for omnibuses, 
amusements, presents, 
charities, etc. etc 


Medical attendance and pro- 
vision against sickness ... 

Sum available towards pro- 
vision for old age 

£ s.d. 




7 10 

3 10 

3 10 


£ s. d. 





4 10 
3 10 



£ s.d. 






3 10 

7 10 


£ s. d. 







3 10 

7 10 







It will be observed that these teachers are 
even here supposed to have friends who 
will put up with them for six weeks. And 
attention may be especially called to the 
magnificent sum that can be set apart for 
educational books and lectures. Frivolous 
books, such as the works of Walter 
Scott, Thackeray, George Eliot, George 
Meredith, Browning, R. L. Stevenson, 
must be presented by friends or borrowed 
in all their grime and dirt from a free 

If this is the position of a favoured 
thousand, the position of the rest may be 
inferred. Of the whole number, however, a 
considerable proportion are teachers in 
elementary schools, and do not come from 
Class H. I have no means of separating 
the two. Imagination may be stimulated 
by perusing the employment columns of 
such a paper as The Lady, where advertise- 
ments appear for governesses at unconscion- 
ably low salaries, reaching occasionally to 
almost a minus quantity when some more 
than ordinarily audacious matron offers a 
comfortable home to a governess in return 


for the education of her children and twelve 
shillings a week. 

Are girls worth educating ? Apparently 
not, as their parents do not think them worth 
paying for. The expectation that marriage 
will in a few years after a girl leaves school 
solve all difficulties and provide for her is at 
the root of all the confusion. Fathers who 
know they can make no provision for their 
daughters make no attempt to train them 
for really lucrative employment, because 
they think the money will be thrown away if 
their daughters marry ; they let them work 
full time for half or less than half the cost of 
living, out of a mistaken kindness, of which 
employers get all the benefit. The girls in 
many cases accept low salaries under the 
same impression, in others because they are 
not strong enough to hold out where so 
many are willing to undersell them. Those 
who only take up employment as a stopgap 
until marriage never become really efficient, 
and when later on they find that there is no 
prospect of release, they become positively 
inefficient. Those who have faced facts 
from the first can throw their whole heart 


into their work, but they are heavily handi- 
capped in their efforts towards progress by 
the bad pay which is the result of the 
thoughtlessness and folly of those around 
them. If only the relatives of these girls 
could realise that at least one-half of them 
will never be married, and that of the others 
many will not marry for several years after 
leaving school, that there is no means of 
predicting which of them will be married, 
and that any of them may have to support, 
not only themselves all their lives, but a 
nurse as well in old age, the tangle would 
soon be unravelled. Two things only I 
would venture to suggest : one, that instead 
of supplementing salaries and so lowering 
them, parents should help their daughters to 
hold out for salaries sufficient to support 
them, should assist them in making them- 
selves more efficient, and should help them 
to make provision for themselves in later 
life, instead of making self-support impos- 
sible ; the other, that manufacturers and 
business men should train their daughters 
as they train their sons. The better organi- 
sation of labour should open a wide field for 


women, if they will only consent to go 
through the routine drudgery and hardship 
that men have to undergo. An educated 
girl who goes from the high school to the 
technological college will find full scope for 
any talents she may possess. As designer, 
chemist, or foreign correspondent in her 
father's factory she could be more helpful 
and trustworthy than anyone not so closely 
interested in his success. As forewoman in 
any factory, if she understood her work, 
she would be far superior to the uneducated 
man or woman, and some of the worst 
abuses in our factory system would be 
swept away. 

If anyone objects that women who are 
intensely interested in work which also 
enables them to be self-supporting are less 
attractive than they would otherwise be, I 
can make no reply except that to expect a 
hundred women to devote their energies to , 
attracting fifty men seems slightly ridiculous. 
If the counter-argument be put forward that 
women, able to support themselves in com- ; 
fort, and happy in their work, will disdain 
marriage, then those who take this view are 


maintaining, not only that it is not true 

Man's love is of man's life a thing apart ; 
Tis woman's whole existence. 

but also that marriage has naturally very 
much less attraction for women than for 




December^ 1898. 

In making an appeal to middle class 
working women to keep and utilise their 
accounts of expenditure, some little explana- 
tion is necessary of the ends to be furthered 
by such tedious labour. For the keeping of 
such accounts is to most people a weariness 
and a vexation. One friend of mine declines 
to make the attempt because it makes her 
miserable to have the smallness of her 
income and the gloominess of the future 
brought before her mind with such regu- 
larity. Another after six months' trial has 
suffered a relapse because keeping the 
account spoilt all the pleasure of spending. 
Many are afraid that moralists will denounce 
their expenditure as misdirected and extrava- 
gant, and, although living within their 
income, prefer to remain uncertain as to 


the amount they spend on what others may 
regard as mere vanities. 

There are two questions which every 
woman who may have to be self-supporting 
should ask herself: — 

(i) Is the salary which I am efficient 
enough to earn sufficient to maintain that 
efficiency for a considerable number of years ? 

(2) In middle age, when I may be entirely 
dependent on my own exertions, shall I be 
more, or shall I be less, competent to earn 
a salary sufficient to maintain the standard 
of living to which I have been accustomed ? 

The cost of efficiency is higher than the 
cost of living, a fact which is not sufficiently 
recognised by the middle class working 
woman or by her employers. The habits 
of domestic life which make it incumbent on 
women to make the best of a fixed income 
cling to them as wage-earners. They do 
not sufficiently realise that the drain on 
their vitality, effected by their daily routine 
of continuous and often monotonous exertion, 
must be met by fresh streams of energy 
which can only be produced under present 
conditions by deliberate search for recreation 

F 2 


and by a greater expenditure of money than 
a purely domestic life demands. 

Some curious results of the movement in 
favour of securing economic independence 
for women may be observed at the present 
time. The theory has of course in many 
cases been reduced in its application to an 
absurdity. Parents who thirty years ago 
would have expected all their daughters to 
stay at home until they were married, now 
with equal unwisdom wish them to pass 
from the school to the office, regardless of 
their natural bent, and as careless of their 
future prospects as before. Girls fitted by 
Nature for a home life, and for nothing else, 
lose their brightness and vitality in seden- 
tary drudgery, losing at the same time all 
prospect of an escape from it. 

So also from a system under which the 
womenkind were expected to devote their 
evenings entirely to smoothing away the 
wrinkles and dispelling the bad tempers of 
their fathers and brothers after their harass- 
ing day's work, we have suddenly passed to 
one under which all the daughters may come 
home equally cross and equally tired, with no 


hope that others will do their repairs for 
them, whether of temper or of clothes. 

But there are well-to-do families where 
the competent mother has no desire to hand 
over her duties to her daughters, and where 
their happiness is still the chief considera- 
tion. Here girls are allowed to earn — not 
their living — but an income by which they 
may relieve their parents of some of their 
cost of living and at the same time live at a 
greater cost. From both a social and an 
economic point of view there is much to be 
said for this plan, provided both parents and 
daughters realise that the latter have not, 
under this system, achieved economic inde- 
pendence, or the power to be economically 
independent. The girl who earns ;^ioo a 
year by her work and receives another ;;/^ioo 
a year in one form or another from her 
father is in all probability underselling no 
one ; and indeed, in the consciousness that 
she is only being paid half her cost of living, 
may even, by her liberal views of what is a 
good salary, be inciting her less luxurious 
colleagues to raise their standard of living 
and remuneration. But if her work is not 


of a kind that gives training and power to 
pass on to higher paid posts, the woman 
worker in middle Hfe will be in almost as 
unhappy a position if obliged to be self- 
supporting as the helpless women who thirty 
years ago used to advertise for posts as 
companions or governesses, stating as their 
only recommendation that they had never 
expected to have to perform the duties of 
either situation. 

Women never will and never can become 
highly efficient and continue so for any long 
period on the salaries which they at present 
receive, or even on the salaries with which, 
as a rule, they would be contented if they 
could get them. Vitality and freshness of 
mind, when youth is gone, cannot be main- 
tained within the four walls of the class 
room or office, on incomes too small to admit 
of varied social intercourse, or of practical 
beneficence. Without the latter power the 
middle-aged unmarried woman can feel that 
she has small claim to live, and, in such a 
case, if her daily work does not in itself call 
for its exercise, she has little desire to. 

What is our standard of living, then ? and 


how much more will it cost us to maintain 
that standard when the whole effort to 
maintain it falls upon ourselves ? To answer 
these questions we must have definite 
accounts of expenditure. 

The samples that I have to give are all 
more or less imperfect as regards their form 
of presentation. The teaching profession is 
the one from which naturally it will be 
easiest to obtain returns. Recruited as it is 
from every rank of life except the aristocracy, 
and charged with the training for every 
rank of life — except, again, the aristocracy, 
who owe little of their education to their 
governesses — it should present to us through 
its accounts a corresponding variety of 
standard of living. It should do so ; but I 
venture to predict that it will not. 

My first three budgets were given to me 
several years ago. They give the expendi- 
ture of three assistant mistresses teaching in 
high schools and boarding during term time 
in private houses. No. i gives the expendi- 
ture for one year ; No. 2 the expenditure for 
two successive years ; No. 3 the average 
expenditure for six years. Side by side with 



them I place the budget foroneyear of another 
high school mistress (No. 4) living in lodg- 
ings — which I give afterwards in greater 


Table I. 

Accounts of Expenditure of three High School Mistresses 
hoarding in Private Houses^ and of one High School 
Mistress in Furnished Lodgings. 

Amount Spent on 

Lodging and \ 

board / 

Washing ... ... 


Books, news- \ 

papers, &c. / 



Amusements ... 
Subscriptions, \ 

donations, &c. / 


Postage and \ 

stationery / 
Miscellaneous ... 
Doctor and \ 

medicine ... / 



Not spent 



2 A. 




£ s. d. 


10 10 

3 18 
9 10 10 





25 13 5 

£ s.d. 
41 6 

2 7 6 


4 I 8 

4 15 6 
I 6 8 




18 8 8 

£ s.d. 

40 4 

2 4 


4 16 

5 4 3 

17 6 





1 I 

23 18 7 

£ s. d. 

50 17 II 


12 14 li 

3 16 8 

}i7 4 2j 

4 4 5i 
9 15 7 
I 15 2 
3 16 3 
3 2 I 

23 10 10 
I 13 4 

£ s.d. 
54 9 3 

3 7 III 
16 5I 

2 15 4i 
12 5i 

3 n 5 
I 17 II 
518 3l 

4 15 li 

3 11 11 
19 5 

20 12 4j 



106 13 4 

135 11 2| 


(a) Included in " Miscellaneous." 

These tables are not so readily comparable 
as they should be for scientific exactness. 
The items included under *^ Travelling " and 
** Holidays " need to be enumerated. Under 
the latter head, for instance, are board and 


lodging included and are railway fares sub- 
tracted and placed under *^ Travelling'' ? 
As a fact No. i and No. 2 include under 
*^ Board and Lodging '' only the cost incurred 
during the school terms ; under the head of 
*' Travelling '' is only counted the cost of 
going to school from home and their daily 
travelling expenses during the school term. 
The money put down under ^^ Holidays'' 
includes their expenses for the part of their 
holidays during which they were not at 
home. The same is, I believe, true in the 
case of No. 3, but I do not know for what 
length of time any of them were subsidised 
by this free board and lodging at home. 

On the other hand, No. 4's accounts are 
so summarised that the cost of *^ Holidays " 
disappears altogether, being broken up into 
its constituents of board, lodging, travelling 
fares and amusements. The confusion in 
this case is remedied in the following detailed 
table supplied by No. 4. 

The social outlook of a working woman is 
very largely determined by the amount she 
can afford to spend on dress, and her view of 
life is perhaps most clearly indicated in the 



consideration of this item of expenditure. 
And no accounts of expenditure are of much 

Table II. 

Accounts of Expenditure of a High School Mistress ™ 
{No, 4) in Furnished Lodgings, 

Amount Spent on 

During School 

During Holidays 


Year (39 weeks). 

(13 weeks). 

during year. 

£ 5. A. 

£ s-d. 

£ s,d. 

, 13 17 6 



\ to be re- 
served in 
^ holidays. 


17 13 


34 II 3 


36 16 3 

Lunches, teas, 


16 8 

16 8 


I 5 6 

I 5 6 


3 7 


3 7 Hi 


16 c 


16 si 


2 15 


2 15 4i 


3 16 t\ 

8 3 II 

12 5i 

Amusements ... 

2 18 6 

12 II 

3 II 5 


donations, &c. 

I I? 


I 17 II 


5 iS 


5 18 3l 

Postage and 

stationery . . . 

4 15 


4 15 li 


I S 


I 9 9 

Doctor and 



> 5 

19 5 

Not spent 

20 12 


20 12 4^ 


value without some accompanying expres- 
sion of the spender's contentment or 


dissatisfaction with the results of her expendi- 
ture. In reply to my question on the subject 
of dress, No. 2 informs me that £16 a year 
was quite enough for her dress : — 

*^ My dresses were always made by a dressmaker, not 
at home ; as we lived in a country town, her charges for 
making were inexpensive as such things go ; I don't 
think that with linings and small etceteras (not of course 
trimmings) they ever exceeded 1 5^. I cannot say that I 
was well dressed, but I don't think that I was exactly 
badly dressed. I am sure that any one with more judi- 
cious taste than I had could have done better on the same 
money ; I myself could do better now, for I certainly 
several times made mistakes of the kind that writers on 
dress warn us against, that of buying things, say at sales, 
which were not really suitable for any likely purpose. I 
always made a plan of buying my winter dress at the 
summer sales, which in our country town came in early 
August, and my summer dress at their winter sale (things 
really were reduced). Though I did no dressmaking I 
made my own underclothing. 

'* I am afraid I don't quite see the application of the 
words ' prettily,' and ' admiration ' to the school dress of 
a high school teacher. I should rather consider neatness 
as one's aim in school dressing, but then some people 
have a talent for dressing for which they very properly 
receive their reward : I am afraid I don't possess it." 

No. 3 writes : 

'' I still keep to about £12 2^. year for my dress, and I 
think there are many teachers, if not most, who spend 
about that amount. Miss B , who was for some years 


head mistress at C , tells me that she never spent 

more than £12 2i year while there, and she visited a good 

deal and certainly always looked very nice. Miss D , 

head mistress at E , tells me that before she came here 

she spent ;^io a year for about ten years while teaching 
in London. As to being well dressed, that is always 
comparative. I have my clothes made at very good shops, 
not the most fashionable, and always of the best materials, 
as I think it is most economical in the end ; but I spend 
very little on trimmings, and nothing on fripperies, such 
as beads and feathers. I generally have two new dresses 
a year. I make my own blouses because the ready-made 
ones are too cheap and poor. If I had time, I think I 
should enjoy making other things, but I have too much 
to do. I generally do my own mending, but sometimes 
lately I have had a woman in to do it. Children certainly 
prefer a well-dressed teacher ; I do not think my dress is 
either so dowdy or so shabby as to displease their taste ; 
to look fresh and clean is my aim for school clothes, 
and plainly made things seem to me most suitable for our 
work. As to evening dress, I generally have one dress 
that will do for a concert, and I very seldom go to any 
other evening entertainment. I think it distinctly an 
advantage to a teacher to have as many quiet evenings at 
home as possible, and I find so many occasions present 
themselves of attending meetings and lectures that if I 
were to go into society as well, I should have very little 
time to give to study and the quiet rest which is so 
refreshing after the day's work.'' 

The details of No. 4's expenditure are 
given later on. 

No. 3 and No. 4 were both considerably 


older than No. i and No. 2, and had both 

learnt that the one absolutely necessary 

indulgence for a high school mistress is a 

good holiday in new scenes. No. 4 says in 

a note that the cost of her holidays during 

this year were lower than usual, as she did 

not go abroad. No. 2 strikes the usual note 

of warning on this point : — 

** I spent very little in my holidays ; for my father was 
much averse to his only daughter spending any of her 
free time away from home ; but you will also notice that 
there is a distinctly large proportion of my salary unap- 
propriated or reserved, and a certain proportion of this 
ought to have been spent in holidays. I enjoy excellent 
health usually, and my nerves seem the only vulnerable 

point, but after teaching more than three years at W , 

a term in X brought me to the brink of a regular 

nervous breakdown : this I imagine might have been 
avoided if I had really had a good holiday every year." 

The moral of this to young teachers would 
seem to be : Do not try to save out of ;^ioo 
a year at the expense of your health. Better 
keep fresh and strong without saving and 
rise to ;^I20 as quickly as possible, than 
break down and exhaust your savings in a 
long illness which may reduce your salary to 

The conditions and cost of living of women 


clerks vary in many and important respects 
from those of women teachers. Their work 
is less exhausting on the whole and less try- 
ing to the nerves. But, on the other hand, 
their holidays are generally very short ; 
except for a few brief months in the year, 
they must work while it is day, and seek for 
their amusements when the night comes ; 
they are doing sedentary work in office 
hours, and yet only by a strong determina- 
tion can they jfind any recreation except in 
the further sedentary occupations of reading 
and sewing, or in poisonous lecture halls, 
concert rooms, or theatres. They cannot 
easily do their shopping, and have no oppor- 
tunity of wearing out their shabby dresses in 
private ; they must feed themselves un- 
wholesomely at tea-rooms, or extravagantly 
and monotonously at restaurants. Above all, 
whereas teaching may be regarded as a life 
work well worth the doing for its own sake, 
clerical work can hardly be soul-satisfying to 
any intelligent human being. It is not living, 
but merely a means of living. 

Dress is necessarily much more expensive 
in the case of the clerk than in the case of 


the high school mistress. Circumstances 
and temperament work together in producing 
this result. Were it possible — as I hope it 
may be — to secure accounts of clerks and 
typists living at home and working for about 
£40 to ;/^6o a year, it would, I believe, fre- 
quently be found that their expenditure on 
this item was double that of the high school 
mistress earning ^^130 a year. On the other 
hand, the high school teacher knows that 
she must preserve physical health, and that 
she cannot afford to economise in food. The 
clerk too often lives on tea and roll until the 
evening, and for want of physical exercise, 
has little appetite even then. 

The clerk's budget (No. 5) that I present 
here gives a year's expenditure of an income 
of ;^227. It has to be noted that, apart 
from the food and rent, most of the items 
were largely supplemented in kind. The 
expenditure does not at all represent the 
standard of living in things not strictly 
necessaries. The sum put down for holiday 
expenditure includes the expense of five 
days' holiday only, the remainder being for 
railway fares, no other expense whatever 



being incurred during the remainder of the 


Table III. 

Accounts of Expenditure of a Clerk {No, 5) renting 

Unfurnished Lodgings. 

Amount spent on 




Rent of two unfurnished rooms, 

kitchen fire, and attendance . 


Coals, wood, and lights . 


Miscellaneous housekeeping ex- 

penses (including additions to 





Washing (household and personal) 





Library subscription, books, news- 

papers, etc. . 


Travelling and holiday . 


Amusements .... 


Clubs and societies 



Presents and charities . 






Small expenses 


Not spent .... 

. 40 



Notes. — About £1^ included under *^ Food '' 
was spent on lunch and tea, which had to 
be taken out every day. The amount under 
** Washing'' does not represent the true 


expense ; many things were sent regularly 
to a country laundry, and were not paid 
for by their owner. The expenditure on 
'* Dress " is ;^io in excess of what produced 
a better effect when living at home as 
a " lady of leisure." Practically, all mend- 
ing (except stockings) and renovating were 
paid for. The amount spent in books by 
no means represents the value received. 
The heading ^' Small Expenses " includes 
cabs, omnibuses, and incidental travelling 
expenses, stationery, postage, extra news- 
papers, and oddments not amounting to 
more than a few pence each. 

The last complete budget placed at my 
disposal is that of a journalist (No. 6), a 
joint occupier of a house, spending ;^338 in 
the year, for which the accounts are given. 
The income tax and total income are not 
stated. No. 6 writes : — 

'* My work is mainly office work, and I have nothing 
to do with society journalism, so that I do not have to be 
well dressed. In giving my travelling expenses I have 
of course omitted all travelling expenses refunded to me 
by my employers, but I have included fares spent in 
taking my bicycle out of London, although they should 
perhaps come under the head of hohday expenses. 

E.W. G 



Then, of course, as, except the theatre, my amusements 
are nearly all outdoor, the expenses are really divided 
between food and dress and lodging, and it looks as 
though I spent very little on recreation/' 

Table IV. 

Accounts of a Journalist {No. 6), Joint Occupier of a 

Amount spent on 




Rent (share of) . 

. 22 


Rates „ ... 

• 7 



Water „ ... 



Gas „ ... 




Coal „ ... 



Service „ 




*' Housekeeping "i 




Luncheons, teas, and dinners awa> 

from home 2 . 




Furniture .... 
















Carried forward 




1 The housekeeping done by the other occupier, and 
separate account of each item not kept. Under this 
head are included half the cost of food for household of 
three people and servant, and of laundry, garden, kitchen 
requisites, house repairs, &c. 

2 This includes daily lunches and teas, and lunches 
and dinners to guests at clubs, restaurants, &c. 


Table IV. — continued. 

Amount spent on 


s, d. 

Brought forward 


15 I 



3 9i 



8 5 

Holiday 1 .... 


18 8 



19 6 




Subscriptions, donations 


15 4 

Presents 2 .... 

. 18 


Postage and stationery 


2 10^ 


• 5 


Doctor and medicine . 

Insurance .... 


2 10 

Savings .... 


Total expenditure . , 


5 4 

Income tax ... . 

Not stated 


Not stated 

Details of dress expenditure for one year 
have been given me by Nos. 5 and 6, as 
well as by No. 4. In addition, I have 
received the dress accounts for one year of 
a clerk living at home and receiving board 
and lodging free, and those for nine years 
of a lady receiving an allowance for her 

1 Spent unusually little on holidays this year. 

2 Includes five months' contribution towards payment 
of one relative to live with and take care of another. 

G 2 



personal expenditure. I give the accounts 
of the wage-earning women first. 

Table V. 

Accounts of Expenditure on Dress of No, 4 {a High 

School Mistress), Nos, 5 and 7 {Clerks), and No» 6 (a 


Amount spent on 





I s- 






s. ^. 

;f s. ^. 


3 16 





2 II 

19 I 9 

Coats, cloaks, 

umbrellas, &c. 

2 7 













5 9 

3 II 7 


and handker- 


3 9 




2 I 

6 17 8 

Boots and shoes 

2 15 




4 2 








13 6 


Ties, collars, &c. 





6 5 

'0 19 9 







I ii| 

16 I 




10 10 

42 I 4! 

(a) Included in *^ petty cash/' and not separable from 
other items. 

(b) Sponges, toilet soaps, brushes, &c., should have 
been included under this head. 

No. 5 (a clerk) adds the following note to 
her dress account : — 

''To give a true impression I think detailed dress 
accounts should cover three years' expenditure; things 
like, e,g,, winter coats and best evening dresses cannot 


come out of the same year's income on a ^^40 dress 
allowance. In considering the effect produced for the 
money, people should certainly state whether they are a 
* stock ' size. I can wear nothing ready made. People 
who can may reduce the cost of all their outer garments 
by about half." 

No. 7 (a clerk), who is perhaps more 
representative of the middle class working 
women of the future than the others whose 
accounts are given here, inasmuch as she 
appears to regard bicycling, tennis, hockey, 
society, and pretty dresses as being as much 
the right of the girl wage-earner as of her 
stay-at-home cousins, has given me the list 
of additions to her wardrobe made by her 
family during the year, the items being : 
one pair of good evening slippers, one 
blouse, one dozen handkerchiefs, one lace 
collar, a total value of £2 45. ; and sundry 
veils, ribbons, and belts, value not known. 

She writes : — 

" What comes so expensive when one has to go to 
work straight on, say for the first six months of the year, 
is the having to keep up the same standard of respect- 
ability in the 'between season' time as at other times. 
The holidays always come between the seasons at 
school or college, and it does not matter much what one 
wears. But at the office by April I felt that I had simply 


' nothing to wear/ and yet I hardly knew what to buy, as 
it was too early to get summer things. If one once got 
into the way of getting inter-season clothes as well, the 
expenditure would be enormous/' 

No. 6 writes : — 

" I walk a great deal in all weathers, and boots and 
walking dresses are subjected to hard wear. I generally 
have about three new walking dresses a year, at about 
4^ guineas each on the average. My boot-bill is extra 
heavy, because my boots have to be made to order." 

And in answer to further questions on this 
latter point : — 

" I find that my average expenditure on boots and 
shoes for the year I gave you and for the year just 
ended (September 30) is £6^ \\s. 9^. ; I never kept my 
accounts before, so that I cannot be sure about my 
permanent average, but I should say it was generally 
about 5 guineas. This year was a very dry year, and not 
so ruinous as usual, and I cycled more and walked less." 

It should be noted that the three office 
workers who spend over ^40 on dress are all 
dissatisfied with the result, and consider that 
they have to exercise rigid economy to keep 
their expenditure down to that limit. At the 
same time, all three are a little ashamed to 
find that they spend so much. This arises 
from the fact that the expenditure is always 


compared with that of the girl living at 
home on an allowance. The comparison is 
not justifiable. The office worker wears out 
more clothes and has no time for making or 

I lay stress on this because one difficulty 
in the way of obtaining accounts is a fear of 
incurring the disapprobation of the censors 
who think that to devote half one's time to 
managing to dress well on ^^30 a year earned 
by some one else is less extravagant than to 
earn ;/^300 a year and spend ^^50 of it on 
dress. I asked a journalist, one of the very 
few working women of my acquaintance 
always suitably and prettily dressed, if she 
would let me have her accounts. She owned 
she had not the courage to confess what a 
large proportion of her income had to go for 
clothes. Later on, after reading the journal- 
istic comments on the expenditure tables 
submitted to the British Association, she 
told me how thankful she was she had 
withheld hers — *' They call ^^40 a lavish 
expenditure ! '' And yet I have little doubt 
that few people could under the same cir- 
cumstances produce so good a result at the 



same expense ; while at the same time from 
a business point of view such an outlay in 
my friend's branch of journalism repays 
itself with high interest. 

My last set of tables, as I have already 

Table VL 

Accounts of Expenditure on Dress of No, 8, living at 

Home, and receiving an Allowance, 

Average Amount spent during the Three Years. 


Coats, cloaks, umbrellas 


Underclothing, hand- 

Boots and Shoes 


Ties, collars, &c 



Personal allowance... 




£ s.d 

13 9 8 

3 16 II 

2 14 4 


3 13 5 
13 I 

£ s,d. 

17 15 6 


3 3 6 

2 19 2 
I 18 I 
17 8 

£ s,d. 

22 I 

5 12 9 

4 10 3 

5 13 10 
I 16 II 
18 4 
19 9 

29 19 3 

36 15 5 

45 2 




said, are not those of a wage-earner. The 
average expenditure is here given for three 
sets of three years, the personal allowance 
being ^^30, ^^40 and ;^5o for the successive 
periods (rising to £60 during the last year 


of the third period). Books and sub- 
scriptions and presents are the other items 
of expenditure not given here. 
No. 8 writes : — 

'* In addition to the allowance I had various presents 
of money. While receiving ^^30 I had evening dresses 
given me. My mending and altering are done by a 
maid at home. Up to 1888 I occasionally had dress- 
making done at home, but now put it all out. Being so 
busy a person and not caring for dressmaking or millinery, 
I have done none myself for the last seven years or more. 
The average yearly glove expenditure of the three periods 
is less now than in 1885. This is probably accounted 
for by the fact that I don't require so many white evening 
gloves as when I had many dances." 

The accounts I have presented here have 
no claim to be regarded as typical. They 
are merely samples of the kind of material 
needed to enable us to discover the type. 



December^ iSgg. 

" Rather than remain braced and keen to watch the 
world accurately and take every appearance on its own 
merits, the lazy intellect declines upon generalizations, 
formalized rules and Laws of Nature/' 

— *' Idlehurst, a Journal kept in the Country/' 

Every reader of the educational journals 
must be familiar with the typical advertise- 
ment that '' The Council of the High 

School for Girls will shortly appoint a Head- 
mistress. No one over 35 need apply.'' The 
restriction produces an effect on assistant 
mistresses very prejudicial to the interests of 
education. Girls after a three or four years' 
University course, followed in some cases by 
a year in a Training College, have hardly 
settled down to the practical business of 
their lives in the high schools before they 
are seized with a nervous fear that if they 
do not shortly bestir themselves in the com- 
petition for headmistress-ships they will 


before long be stranded on this old-time 
superstition. Their youth and inexperience 
are facts constantly brought before them up 
to the age of thirty or thereabouts, and then 
with hardly an interval they find themselves 
confronted by this theory of sudden decay of 
faculties in women. During the second five 
years of teaching there is a constant agitation 
among young mistresses in the endeavour to 
secure a headship, and then amongst those 
who fail in the lottery — for it is a lottery — 
comes the deadening prospect of, perhaps, a 
quarter of a century's work to be carried on 
without hope of promotion. 

It may be useful to consider the origin of 
this '* formalised rule '' that women are unfit 
to undertake serious responsibility after the 
age of thirty-five. 

The rule — an advance, no doubt, on the 
eighteenth-century habit of referring to men 
and women of forty or fifty as *'aged" — 
became stereotyped at least as early as the 
middle of this century. Unmarried ladies 
regarded as on the shelf at twenty-five were 
forced to let their faculties die for want of 
exercise. The freshness was drained out 


of them by the pressure of triviaHties un- 
resisted by hope. Those who entered the 
labour market did so as victims of cruel 
misfortune, full of pity for themselves and 
quickly worn out by their struggles to gain 
a livelihood with few qualifications for the 

During the last twenty years a very striking 
change has made itself apparent. In some 
branches the extension of the working period 
of a woman's life has been so great that it 
has even brought back to useful, hopeful 
enterprise women who had settled down to 
the colourless, dreary, monotonous round 
prescribed for the unattached elderly. The 
number of educated women who either earn 
a livelihood or engage in philanthropic work 
has not increased so much as is usually 
supposed, but the spirit in which the work is 
undertaken is wholly different. Not that it 
is in all respects a praiseworthy one. The 
disinterestedness of the saint is perhaps 
lacking. Indeed, what I wish to lay stress 
on as a fact for which to be thankful is that 
the period of youthful inter est edness has been 
very greatly extended. 


In fiction our women writers have long 
since abandoned sweet seventeen as a heroine, 
and even men writers, slowest of all to observe 
such changes, have, during the last five years 
or so, recognised that at that favoured age 
girls are nowadays too much absorbed in 
preparing for senior locals and college 
entrance examinations to offer useful material 
for romantic literature. 

Not a few of our veterans shake their 
heads over what I have called the extension 
of youthfulness, but what they call the pro- 
longation of childish irresponsibility. The 
crudeness of the girl-graduate of two or 
three and twenty is contrasted unfavourably 
with the finished manners and graceful 
maturity of the girl of eighteen some forty 
years ago. And there would be much to 
be urged in support of their disapproval if, 
with the raising of the age-limit of a girl's 
systematised education, there were no cor- 
responding rise in the age-limit of her 
usefulness and energy. If the prime of life 
were necessarily passed at an age fixed for all 
time, so that the time spent in preparation 
for work was deducted from the time available 


for work itself, it might fairly be doubted 
whether our modern system of education was 
not positively harmful. 

But there is no such fixity in the age at 
which maturity is attained, and there is 
reason to believe that as each generation 
takes longer to arrive at maturity, owing to 
much more careful attention to mental and 
physical development, so also each genera- 
tion retains the possession of its mature 
powers for a longer period than the preceding 

Reflecting on this possibility and com- 
paring modern systems of education with 
those prevailing a century ago, it will be 
noticed that in those days girls became wives 
and mothers before they had time to realise 
the joy of youth ; that children were intro- 
duced to society too soon to have indulged 
in the delightful exercise of imagination, un- 
touched by responsibility ; and that toddling 
babies must have been taught to theorise on 
moral problems, judging by the period at 
which some of them attained to a reasoned 

Looking back, too, with curiosity, to the 


methods by which this precocious maturity 
of judgment was produced, it is interesting 
to note the changes in the school curriculum 
apparent at different periods, and the absence 
of those subjects which, in our day, we 
regard as preliminary to education, and 
which yet require more years for their 
mastery than were necessary a hundred 
years ago for the mastery of feminine 
accomplishments and the acquisition of 
fixed moral principles. 

It is those fixed moral principles that 
form the most marked characteristic of 
the eighteenth-century child. Of religious 
teaching there was strikingly little ; religious 
fervour is almost entirely absent from the 
literature of the period. But moral teaching 
was, so far as girls were concerned, the only 
branch of study in which they were called to 
exercise their reason. 

We are all of us apt to imagine that the 
writers of children's books in the last century 
had so little artivStic faculty as to be con- 
stantly writing a language which no human 
being could ever have indulged in, in real life. 
But, in fact, these prematurely grown-up 


girls were never called on to exercise 
their intelligence on any subject except 
morals. They were twice as old as our 
children of the same age, but their brains 
were less accustomed to exercise than those 
of our infants in the kindergarten nowadays. 
The style in vogue was a natural result. 

Daniel Defoe, in his '* Tour through Great 
Britain,^' describes the domestic system in 
the woollen industry in the West Riding at 
the beginning of the eighteenth century with 
glowing enthusiasm. I quote, from the 
edition of 1759, the account of the trade in 
Halifax and the surrounding district. After 
describing the scenery, he goes on : 

^' Nor is the industry of the people wanting 
to second these advantages. Though we 
met few people without doors, yet within we 
saw the houses full of lusty fellows, some at 
the dye vat, some at the loom, others dressing 
the cloth ; the women and children carding 
or spinning ; all employed from the youngest 
to the oldest ; scarce anything above four 
years old but its hands were sufficient for 
its own support.'' 

There are other instances of a similar 


kind in other parts of the book. It is to 
him a delightful thing that there should be 
work enough for these little four-year-old 
mites to be able to relieve their parents from 
the burden of their support. 

Clearly, then, children were not allowed to 
be children for long in those days. And 
some of the stories to which I shall refer 
are not quite so ridiculous as we may have 
imagined. We have accused the writers of 
talking in an absurdly grown-up manner 
to little children. It was really the little 
children who were absurdly grown up in real 
life, not merely in fiction. 

Take as an instance the story of ^^ Jemima 
Placid,'' written some time between 1770 
and 1790. I quote the prologue : 

'^ As I had nothing particular to do, I took a walk one 
morning as far as St. James's Park, where meeting with 
a lady of my acquaintance, she invited me to go home 
with her to breakfast; which invitation I accordingly 
complied with. Her two daughters had waited for her 
a considerable time, and expressed themselves to have 
been much disturbed at her stay. They afterwards 
fretted at the heat of the weather; and the youngest, 
happening accidentally to tear her apron, she bewailed it 
the succeeding part of the day with so much appearance 
of vexation, that I could not help showing some degree 

E.W. H 


of astonishment at her conduct ; and having occasion 
afterwards to mention Miss Placid, I added that she was 
the most agreeable girl I had ever known. 

" Miss Eliza, to whom I was speaking, said that she 
had long wished to hear something further concerning 
that young lady, as her mamma very frequently proposed 
her as an example without mentioning the particulars of 
her conduct ; but as I was so happy as to be favoured 
with her intimacy, she should be glad to hear a recital 
of those excellences which acquired such universal 

^^ In compliance with this request I wrote the following 
sheets and dispatched them to Miss Eliza, and by her 
desire it is that they are now submitted to the world ; as 
she obligingly assured me that her endeavours to imitate 
the calm disposition of the heroine of this history had 
contributed so much to her own happiness, and increased 
the good opinion of her friends, that she wished to have 
so amiable an example made public for the advantage of 

And then we are given the life of Miss 
Jemima Placid at the age of six, and in 
particular of her first visit from home to her 
cousins, Miss Nelly and Miss Sally Finer, 
aged nine and eight years respectively. 

The incidents of the story are of the kind 
that would happen to children of six or seven 
nowadays. But the moral teaching is repre- 
sentative of the ethical teaching of the time. 
The importance of ease of manner and good 


deportment in society is constantly being 
urged : 

" Jemima, who had not seen her cousins since she was 
two years old, had entirely forgotten them ; and, as they 
expected to find her as much a baby as at their last inter- 
view, they appeared like entire strangers to each other. 
They welcomed their papa and mamma, and looked at 
Miss Placid with silent amazement : both parties, indeed, 
said the civil things they were desired, such as, * How do 
you do, cousin ? ' rather in a low and drawling tone of 
voice ; and Miss Sally, who was eight years old, turned 
her head on one side and hung on her papa's arm, 
though he tried to shake her off and desired her to 
welcome Miss Placid to London, and to say she was glad 
to see her, to inquire after her papa, mamma, and 
brothers, and, in short, to behave politely and receive her 
in a becoming manner. To do this, however, Mr. Piner 
found was impossible, as his daughters were not at any 
time distinguished by the graces, and were always particu- 
larly awkward, from their shyness, at a first introduction. 
In this place, my dear Eliza, you must excuse me if I 
stop to hint at a like error in your own conduct, and 
which, indeed, young ladies in general are too apt to be 
inattentive to ; that, as first impressions are usually the 
strongest, it is of great consequence to impress your 
company with a favourable opinion of your appearance. 
As you are acquainted with the common forms of good 
breeding, you should consider that it is quite immaterial 
whether you address a lady you have before seen or one 
with whom you are unacquainted, since the compliments 
of civility are varied only by the circumstances of your 
knowledge, or the different connections of the person to 

H 2 


whom you are speaking. When, therefore, you are in 
company with strangers, you should accustom yourself to 
say what is proper (which will be to answer any question 
they may ask you) without at all considering how long 
you have known them ; and be assured that as an easy 
behaviour is at all times most agreeable, you will certainly 
please when you speak with a modest degree of freedom. 
Do not therefore make yourself uneasy with the idea of 
appearing awkward, for by that means you will defeat 
your wishes ; but endeavour to retain your natural voice, 
and express yourself with the same unconcern as you do 
in common conversation, since every species of affec- 
tation is disagreeable, and nothing will so strongly 
recommend you as simplicity/' 

Mrs. Placid's exhortation on mutual for- 
bearance to the Miss Piners, who had just 
emerged from a fight for a place in the 
window-seat, is another example of excellent 
forensic powers brought to bear on the 
education of little girls : 

"'There is great wickedness,' replied her aunt, 'in 
being so tenacious of every trifle as to disagree about it 
with those with whom we live, especially between brothers 
and sisters, who ought always to be united in affection 
and love ; and if you now indulge your passions so that 
you will submit to no opposition, it will make you hated 
and despised by everybody and constantly unhappy in 
your own mind. It is impossible, my dear, to have every 
circumstance happen as we wish it to do ; but if a dis- 
appointment could at any time justify ill-nature and 
petulance it would certainly be adding greatly to the 

FOR wbMEN. : lyy.^ V'l :> . %q,i 

unhappiness of life. And do you think, my dear, that to 
fight on every occasion with those who oppose you is at 
all consistent with the delicacy of a young lady ? I dare 
say, when you give yourself time to reflect on the subject, 
you will perceive that you have been much to blame, and 
that whenever you have suffered yourself to be ill-natured 
and quarrelsome you have always been proportionably 
uneasy and wretched. Nothing can so much contribute 
to your present felicity or future peace as a good under- 
standing and cordial affection for your sister. You will 
most probably be more in her company than in any other 
person's, and how comfortable w^ould it be, by every little 
office of kindness, to assist each other! I am sure, if you 
would try the experiment, you would find it much better 
than such churlish resistance and provoking contentions. 
It is by good humour and an attention to please in trifles 
that love is cherished and improved. If your sister wants 
anything, be assiduous to fetch it. If she cannot untie a 
knot, do it for her. If she wishes a place in the window, 
make room immediately. Share with her all that is given 
to you : conceal her faults, as you dislike your own to be 
observed ; commend her good qualities, and never envy, 
but endeavour to emulate, her perfections. By this 
method you will ensure her regard and make yourself 
happy at the same time ; that will give the highest 
pleasure to your parents, and obtain the esteem of all 
your acquaintance. Think of these motives, my dear girl, 
and resolve to exert yourself ; and when you feel inclined 
to be angry and cross, recollect whether it will be w^orlh 
while, because you have first got possession, to engage in 
a contest which will forfeit all these advantages. Think 
with yourself. Shall I lose my sister's love or abate her 
regard for an orange, a plaything, or a seat ? Do I not 
prefer making her contented, and keeping my own mind 

iQu THE Age limit 

serene and placid, before the pleasure of enjoying a toy 
or any other thing equally trifling ? Will it tire me to 
fetch down her cloak, or her doll, if she is in want of 
them ? And shall I not do it in less time than it will 
take to dispute whose business it is to go ? In short, my 
dear niece, you will find so much ease and pleasure 
result from the resolution to oblige that I dare say, if you 
once attempt it, you will be inclined to persevere.' 

*''But indeed, madam,' returned Miss Nelly, * my 
sister is as cross to me as I am to her, and therefore it is 
out of my power to do what you advise ; for I cannot bear 
to do everything for her when she will do nothing forme/ 

" ^ You are both much to blame,' said Mrs. Placid, 
* but as you are the eldest it is your place to set a good 
example, and you do not know, Nelly, how far that 
incitement will prevail. When you have refused her one 
request, she is naturally, by way of retaliation, induced to 
deny you another : this increases your mutual dissatisfac- 
tion and commences new quarrels, by which means your 
anger is continued, so that neither is inclined to oblige or 
condescend. But if she finds you continue to be good- 
natured, she will catch the kind impression, as she used 
to imbibe the ill habits of malevolence and rage. In 
every case you should consider that the errors of another 
person are no excuse for the indulgence of evil in 

In the story of ^^ Mrs. Teachum and the 
Little Female Academy/' the school curri- 
culum is very clearly stated. A delightful 
account of the training received by Mrs. 
Teachum for the post of schoolmistress 


shows the prevalence of a humble deference 
to men's superior judgment, which may help 
to explain the absence of enthusiasm on their 
part for the higher education of women. 

"This gentlewoman was the widow of a clergyman, 
with whom she had lived nine years in all the harmony 
and concord which form the only satisfactory happiness 
in the married state. 

" Mr. Teachum was a very sensible man, and took 
great delight in improving his wife, as she also placed her 
chief pleasure in receiving his instructions. One of his 
constant subjects of discourse to her was concerning the 
education of children ; so that, when in his last illness 
his physicians pronounced him beyond the power of their 
art to relieve him, he expressed great satisfaction in the 
thought of leaving his children to the care of so prudent 
a mother. 

*'Mrs. Teachum, though exceedingly afflicted by such 
a loss, yet thought it her duty to call forth all her resolu- 
tion to conquer her grief, in order to apply herself to the 
care of these her dear husband's children. But her 
misfortunes were not here to end : for within a twelve- 
month after the death of her husband she was deprived 
of both her children by a violent fever that then raged in 
the country ; and about the same time, by the unforeseen 
breaking of a banker in whose hands almost all her fortune 
was just then placed, she was bereft of the means of her 
future support. 

" The Christian fortitude with which (through her 
husband's instructions) she had armed her mind, had not 
left it in the power of any outward accident to bereave her 
of her understanding, or to make her incapable of doing 


what was proper on all occasions. Therefore, by the 
advice of all her friends, she undertook what she was so 
well qualified for — namely, the education of children. 

'* And this trust she endeavoured faithfully to discharge, 
by instructing those committed to her care in reading, 
writing, working, and in all proper forms of behaviour. 
And though her principal aim was to improve their minds 
in all useful knowledge, to render them obedient to their 
superiors, and gentle, kind, and affectionate to each other, 
yet she did not omit teaching them an exact neatness in 
their persons and dress, and a perfect gentility in their 
w^hole carriage." 

*^ Reading, writing, working, and all proper 
forms of behaviour.'' And it is on the ''proper 
forms of behaviour '' that the story lays stress. 
And it must frankly be admitted that the 
teaching was necessary. The number of 
Mrs. Teachum's young ladies was limited to 
nine. The eldest. Miss Jenny Peace, was 
just turned fourteen, and the others were all 
under twelve. Miss Jenny Peace being of 
such an advanced age, necessarily has cast 
upon her a responsibility for improving the 
tone of the school, and rises to the occasion 
with a sweet self-confidence, combined with 
modesty, which the nineteen-year-old captain 
of a high school nowadays might admire, but 
would hardly dare to imitate. The quarrels 


of the two Miss Piners seem tame, although 
solely on account of the inferior numbers, by 
comparison with the free fight in which Mrs. 
Teachum's young ladies indulge at the 
beginning of the story. 

It opens with a dispute as to which of 
them was entitled to the largest apple in a 
basket of the fruit given to Miss Jenny Peace 
to distribute. To end the strife, Miss Jenny 
threw the apple over a hedge into another 

" At first they were all silent, as if they were struck 
dumb with astonishment with the loss of this one poor 
apple, though at the same time they had plenty before 

'* But this did not bring to pass Miss Jenny's design : 
for now they all began again to quarrel which had the 
most right to it, and which ought to have had it, with as 
much vehemence as they had before contended for the 
possession of it ; and their anger by degrees became so 
high that words could not vent half their rage ; and they 
fell to pulling of caps, tearing of hair, and dragging the 
clothes off one another's backs ; though they did not so 
much strike as endeavour to scratch and pinch their 

*' Miss Dolly Friendly as yet was not engaged in the 
battle; but on hearing her friend Miss Nannie Spruce 
scream out that she was hurt by a sly pinch from one of 
the girls, she flew on this sly pincher, as she called her, 
like an enraged lion on its prey : and not content only to 


return the harm her friend had received, she struck with 
such force as felled her enemy to the ground. And now 
they could not distinguish between friend and enemy; 
but fought, scratched, and tore like so many cats, when 
they extend their claws to fix them in their rival's heart. 

"Miss Jenny was employed in endeavouring to part them. 

'' In the midst of this confusion appeared Mrs. Teachum, 
who was returning in hopes to see them happy with the 
fruit she had given them ; but she was some time there 
before either her voice or presence could awaken them 
from their attention to the fight ; when on a sudden they 
all faced her, and fear of punishment began now a little 
to abate their rage. Each of the misses held in her right 
hand, fast clenched, some marks of victory ; for they beat 
and were beaten by turns. One of them held a little lock 
of hair torn from the head of her enemy, another grasped 
a piece of a cap, which, in aiming at her rival's hair, had 
deceived her hand, and was all the spoils she could gain ; 
a third clenched a piece of an apron ; a fourth, of a frock. 
In short, every one, unfortunately, held in her hand a proof 
of having been engaged in the battle. And the ground 
was spread with rags and tatters, torn from the backs of 
the little inveterate combatants.'' 

Space does not permit me to describe the 
efforts by which Miss Jenny brought about 
the moral reform of the combatants. She 
recounts to them her mamma's system of 
bringing her up, with especial reference to 
her studies up to the age of six ; and the 
other girls, brought to see the error of their 
ways by a recognition of the unhappiness 


which their faults have always brought upon 
themselves, recount the stories of their lives 
also. Fairy tales and society plays are 
brought into the service of morality, and the 
teaching to be deduced from them is ex- 
pounded. And although at the end of a 
fortnight Miss Jenny's ministrations are 
ended by her leaving school, 

" all quarrels and contentions were banished from Mrs. 
Teachum's house ; and if ever any such thing was likely 
to arise, the story of Miss Jenny Peace's reconciling all 
her little companions was told to them : so that Miss 
Jenny, though absent, still seemed (by the bright example 
which she left behind her) to be the cement of union and 
harmony in this well-regulated society. And if any girl 
was found to harbour in her breast a rising passion, which 
it was difficult to conquer, the name and story of Miss 
Jenny Peace soon gained her attention, and left her 
without any other desire than to emulate Miss Jenny's 

But perhaps it may be imagined that this 
story does not really represent the system of 
education which we know from biographies 
and letters did after all either produce, or 
allow to emerge, women of strong character 
and considerable intellectual attainments. 

For further light, turn to Miss Edgeworth's 
two stories of Mile. Panache, the bad French 


governess, and Mile, de Rosier, the good 
French governess. 

'' Mrs. Temple had two daughters, Emma and Helen ; 
she had taken great care of their education, and they were 
very fond of their mother, and particularly happy whenever 
she had leisure to converse with them ; they used to tell 
her everything that they thought and felt ; so that she had 
it in her power early to correct, or rather to teach them to 
correct, any little faults in their disposition and to rectify 
those errors of judgment to which young people, from 
want of experience, are so liable. 

**Mrs. Temple lived in the country, and her society 
was composed of a few intimate friends ; she wished, 
especially during the education of her children, to avoid 
the numerous inconveniences of what is called an extensive 
acquaintance. However, as her children grew older, it 
was necessary that they should be accustomed to see a 
variety of characters, and still more necessary that they 
should learn to judge of them. There was little danger 
of Emma's being hurt by the first impressions of new facts 
and new ideas ; but Helen, of a more vivacious temper, 
had not yet acquired her sister's good sense. We must 
observe that Helen was a little disposed to be fond of 
novelty, and sometimes formed a prodigiously high opinion 
of persons whom she had seen but for a few hours. Not 
to admire was an art which she had yet to learn.'* 

Helen enters upon this part of her educa- 
tion when she is between eleven and twelve 
years old. 

After this it creates a sensation of relief to 


hear Miss Edgeworth, in describing the 
pupils of Madame de Rosier, declare of 
Favoretta, the youngest, aged about six 
years old, that '^ At this age the habits that 
constitute character are not formed, and it is, 
therefore, absurd to speak of the character of 
a child six years old/' It would almost seem 
that in making this assertion Miss Edge- 
worth was delivering heretical views, and we 
have seen that the author of ^^ Jemima 
Placid,'' at any rate, disagreed with her. 

Turning from fiction to real life to confirm 
it, we find the following advice given by the 
Countess of Carlisle, in 1789, to young ladies 
on their first establishment in the world. In 
her preface she says that the book is in- 
tended for those who have been educated. 
That this impHes moral education more than 
anything else is made evident. The young 
married woman is, however, recommended to 
cultivate her mind, and the advice takes 
practical form. 

'' If abundance of leisure shall allow you to extend 
your studies/' says Lady Carlisle, "let arithmetic, geo- 
graphy, chronology, and natural history compose the 
principal part." 


The brain which has not been trained in 
mental gymnastics in early youth, unless 
unusually active, loses its powers. Narrow- 
mindedness is a correct name for a psycho- 
logical fact. That there were broad and 
vigorous-minded women at this period who 
probably owed much to their teachers there 
is no doubt. But, for the most part, these 
were women who by their social position 
came in contact with able men, and saw life 
from many points of view. The easy access 
to personal acquaintance with leaders of 
thought, statesmen, practical workers, and 
cultured and refined women, gives to the 
aristocracy and the upper middle classes an 
education and training which never cease, 
and which make a University training an 
amusing episode rather than a necessity. 

In the middle classes the circumstances 
and duties of a woman^s life are entirely 
different. After marriage, a limited income 
and maternal and domestic duties limit a 
woman's social education, and if her mental 
powers have not been fully developed by 
education it is difficult for her to resist the 
tendency to become absorbed in her purely 


personal worries and cares ; brain atrophy 
sets in, and with it old age, the closing up of 
the mental avenues to new impressions and 

Thus any child at a Board school can be 
taught arithmetic, and most children at a 
high school can make progress in geometry 
and algebra, but even capable middle class 
women, who begin these subjects for the first 
time in early middle life, are frequently found 
to be mentally incapable of the reasoning 
processes involved. 

In one hundred years the age of childish 
irresponsibility has been raised from six to 
about twelve, and in the extra six years thus 
granted imagination and individuality have 
been left free to develop themselves. 

During the last twenty years another 
change has taken place. The duties of the 
young person have altered. Formerly at the 
age of eighteen, in the young person's fiction, 
she was expected to relieve her invalid mother 
of household cares and brighten her aged 
father's declining years. But mothers in 
iSgg refuse to become decrepit and take to 
the sofa merely because their daughters are 


grown up, and fathers only require to be 
amused occasionally in the evening. The 
new mother may be considerably over thirty- 
five, bordering on fifty perhaps, but she neither 
feels aged nor looks it, and is rather inclined 
to look beyond her home for full scope for 
her powers when thus set free from maternal 
cares. And, given intelligence, length of 
years guarantees experience. 

One of the tortures of the Inquisition was 
to place the victim in a room, the walls of 
which grew nearer to each other every day 
until, at last, they closed in on him and 
crushed him to death. In the same way 
intelligent life gradually grows fainter and 
fainter as the brain decays for want of exer- 
cise. A daily mental constitutional is neces- 
sary to prevent the accumulation of what 
W. K. Clifford called mental fat ; mental 
gymnastics are needed to prevent stiffening 
of the brain. When not only our habits but 
our ideas have become fixed, then we have 
grown old. An octogenarian may be young, 
if he has preserved the faculty of modifying 
his conceptions in correspondence with new 


Mental activity, provided there is no over- 
strain of the nerves, gives freshness and 
interest to Hfe, and to be fresh and interested 
is to be young. It is because girls have been 
taught to use their brains, and women have 
been encouraged to keep them in repair, that 
this old stereotyped conception of the neces- 
sary failure of power after thirty-five years of 
age has become absurd. At what age the 
value of a woman's increased experience 
is counterbalanced by diminished physical 
power I do not pretend to judge. Women 
differ, and their social opportunities differ. 
I merely transpose my text and say, ^^ Do 
not let your intellect lazily decline upon 
generalisations, formalised rules, and laws of 
nature ; but rather let it remain braced and 
keen to watch the world accurately and take 
every appearance on its own merits.'' 




March, igoo. 

The argument of Mrs. Stetson's book, 

^* Women and Economics/' may be briefly 

summed up as follows : — ^ 

(i) Man is the only animal species in which the female 
depends on the male for food. 

(2) The married woman's living (i,e., food, clothing, 
ornaments, amusements, luxuries) bears no relation to 
her power to produce wealth, or to her services in the 
house, or to her motherhood. 

(3) The woman gets her living by getting a husband. 
The man gets his wife by getting a living. 

(4) Although marriage is a means of livelihood, it is 
not honest employment, where one can offer one's labour 
without shame. To earn her living a woman must 
therefore make herself sexually attractive. 

(5) The result of this is that, while men have been deve- 
loping humanity, women have been developing femininity, 
to the great moral detriment of both men and women. • 

(6) The disastrous effects of this undue cultivation of 
sex differences can only be prevented by the wife being 
economically independent of her husband. 

(7) This economic independence should be secured by 
the wife earning her living by performing paid work for 
some person or body other than her husband. 


ECONOMIC IDEA^--^-^ 115 

(8) The performance of maternal functions is not in- 
compatible with the performance of such remunerative 
services outside the family. 

(9) The servant functions of preparing food and 
removing dirt are not necessarily domestic functions, 
and could be better performed by professional cooks 
outside the home, and professional cleaners visiting the 
home or taking the work from the home. 

(10) The nursemaid functions of minding small chil- 
dren can be better performed, with greater advantage to 
the children, in the creche and kindergarten than in the 
domestic nursery. 

(11) The wife can therefore advantageously be relieved 
from the continuous supervision of the kitchen, the living 
rooms, and the nursery, as she has already been relieved 
of the burden of the family washing, dressmaking, 
tailoring, and manufacture of underclothing. 

(12) She will then be free to earn her own living 
outside the home. 

(13) By so doing she not only will prevent the evils which 
have arisen from the wife's economic dependence on 
her husband, but she will develop her human faculties. 
For what we do modifies us more than what is done 
for us. 

The fifth, sixth, and seventh propositions 
are those on which the whole argument 
hinges. Mrs. Stetson's energy of expression 
and her contempt for convention have 
deservedly secured for her a re-consideration 
of old problems thus presented in a new 
form. The ability with which she supports 

I 2 


her conclusions is obvious. Her logic needs 
more careful examination. 

Her first argument I dismiss as quite irre- 
levant. Granted that at least some men sup- 
port their female kind, and that no brutes do, 
nothing follows. I trust that there are many 
thousand characteristics which may be predi- 
cated of man which must be denied of brutes. 

Granted also her next argument, that 
what the wife obtains from her husband bears 
no relation to her power to produce wealth, 
or to her services in the house, or to her 
motherhood. Marriage, as Mrs. Stetson 
maintains, should not be a business trans- 
action, and therefore the less commercial the 
relations of husband and wife to each other, 
the less will service on one side be balanced 
against service on the other side. The basis 
is the reverse of the economic basis ; the 
honest business man tries to get the largest 
amount for himself obtainable without cheat- 
ing his co-bargainer, trusting to the latter to 
guard his own interests, and to see that what 
he gets is worth to him what he gives for it. 
In any normal marriage the desire on each 
side is to secure to the other the greatest 


amount of good at a reasonable cost to 
themselves, the difference between persons 
determining more than anything else what 
they consider a reasonable cost. Stepniak, in a 
struggle with the English language, once gave 
a very happy definition, which most practical 
people would accept. ^^ Marriage,'' he said, 
^^ is to love and put up with.'' Now these are 
just the two acts that no one expects from 
the parties to a commercial contract. 

I therefore grant Mrs. Stetson's second 
argument, and put it aside, as being, like the 
previous one, beside the question. 

Thirdly, *' The woman gets her living by 
getting a husband. The man gets his wife 
by getting a living." Putting aside for the 
moment the question of the truth of this 
statement, I agree with Mrs. Stetson that in 
any social group of which such a statement 
is true the moral tone of women, and there- 
fore of men, will be a low one. In such a 
state of society also it would be necessary, 
as Mrs. Stetson says, for a woman, in order 
to earn her living, to make herself sexually 
attractive. But before passing on I would 
point out that, at this stage of the argument, 


the only part of this result which I would on 
the face of it admit to be bad is that the 
woman in such a case frequently falsely 
assumes attractive qualities which she does 
not really possess, or conforms to a mascu- 
line standard of what is womanly which she 
at heart despises. It is, in fact, the develop- 
ment of the human qualities of fraud and 
hypocrisy which is to be deprecated, rather 
than the development of feminine attraction. 
But Mrs. Stetson makes the universal 
statement that women have been developing 
femininity to a harmful degree, and to the 
injury of the human attributes which should 
be common to both sexes. At first imagin- 
ing that Mrs. Stetson, like most women, was 
confining her attention to the present and 
the near past, I was extremely puzzled at 
this assertion. It seemed especially strange 
that it should come from America, where 
even more than in England women have 
been supposed to be developing their indivi- 
duality in all kinds of occupations hitherto 
supposed to be only suitable for men. But 
suddenly Mrs. Stetson announces that after 
all she is only arguing in favour of what 


many women are already doing, and have 
been doing for the last half century or so. 

Now to decide whether femininity has 
become excessive, we must first know what 
group of women we are studying, and also 
with what other group of women we are 
comparing them. Mrs. Stetson is not ap- 
parently describing the present century as 
ending with a great development of purely 
feminine qualities, and even if she were, we 
might fairly ask her to tell us whether she 
includes Americans, Turks, Hindoos, and 
Hottentots under the same category. But 
there is no hint given of any great differences 
between women rendering it necessary to 
limit the nations coming under review, nor 
do I find it possible to date exactly the 
epochs chosen for comparison. On p. 129 
we have the following condonement of the 
treatment of woman in past ages )- — 

With a full knowledge of the initial superiority of her 
sex, and the sociological necessity for its temporary sub- 
version, she should feel only a deep and tender pride in 
the long patient ages during which she has waited and 
suffered that man might slowly rise to full racial equality 
with her. She could afford to wait. She could afford 
to suffer. 


Searching carefully to find at what period 
of the world's history the initial superiority of 
the woman was obvious prior to its temporary 
subversion, I find on page 70 the approxi- 
mate date given in the following passage : — 

The action of heredity has been to equaUse what every 
tendency of environment and education made to differ. 
This has saved us from such a female as the gypsy moth. 
It has held up the woman and held down the man. It 
has set iron bounds to our absurd effort to make a race 
with one sex a million years behind the other. 

Clearly, then, the decline and fall of 
woman dates back at least one million 
years. In practical retrospection there must 
be a Statute of Limitations. Neither Mrs. 
Stetson nor any one else knows what men 
or women were like a milHon years ago, or 
even ten thousand years ago. Nor is it per- 
missible to turn, as Mrs. Stetson frequently 
does, to feeble-minded contemporary savages. 
Darwin, unlike the majority of those who 
quote him, did not profess to know every- 
thing, or to be able to supply the history of 
events of which no record has been left. 
We have no reason whatever for imagining 
that our ancestors were lacking in fortitude 


and intellectual vigour, and we have much 
for believing that no highly civilised race will 
ever be developed from the savage tribes 
with which we are acquainted. ^^ From the 
good and brave are born the brave.'' Horace 
knew probably as much about heredity as 
most of us do, and the average person's 
principal debt to Darwin is his emancipation 
from the bondage of Hebrew mythology. 

While declining, therefore, to follow Mrs. 
Stetson in her wonderful flights of fancy with 
regard to unknown times and races of man- 
kind, and acknowledging myself incapable of 
judging whether women have become more 
or less feminine as compared with prehistoric 
times, I agree with Mrs. Stetson, so far as 
regards a section of American and English 
society, when she says (p. 149) that *^ women 
are growing honester, braver, stronger, more 
healthful and skilful and able and free — more 
human in all ways," and that this improve- 
ment has been at least coincident with, and 
to some extent due to, the effort to become 
at least capable of economic independence. 

But Mrs. Stetson takes a flying leap when 
from these premisses she jumps to the 


conclusion that the wife's economic indepen- 
dence of the husband is necessary to pre- 
vent the evils consequent on women being 
dependent on marriage for a living. 

Mrs. Stetson makes no distinction between 
the effects of economic dependence before 
marriage and economic dependence after 
marriage. But provided that before mar- 
riage a woman is able to support herself 
with sufficient ease to render her a free 
agent, and that she retains the power of being 
self-supporting should economic necessity 
from any cause arise after marriage, what 
is the objection to pecuniary dependence on 
the husband ? I see none whatever. 

So that I find myself obliged to put aside 
all Mrs. Stetson's stirring appeals for a 
moral advance as very interesting, but as 
having really no bearing on her proposed 
reforms, which must therefore be considered 
on their own merits. 

Criticism of the proposed reorganisation 
of domestic arrangements I leave to the 
practical housewife. 

It is only the fitness of the mother, or 
perhaps, for anything the employer can tell, 


the about-to-become mother, for regular work 
away from home that I wish to consider. 
Her own physical condition, to say nothing 
of the liability of her children to get measles, 
whooping-cough, croup, and mumps, will 
prevent her services from being warmly 
appreciated in most skilled occupations. 
Then Mrs. Stetson leaves us in the dark 
as to what these remunerative occupations 
are in which mothers may earn a living in 
their leisure hours. 

On p. 9 Mrs. Stetson says : — 

The making and managing of the great engines of 
modern industry, the threading of earth and sea in our 
vast systems of transportation, the handling of our elabo- 
rate machinery of trade, commerce, and government — 
these things could not be done so well by women in their 
present degree of economic development. This is not 
owing to lack of the essential human faculties necessary 
to such achievements, nor to any inherent disability of 
sex, but to the present condition of woman forbidding the 
development of this degree of economic ability. 

While reducing maternal duties to a mini- 
mum, Mrs. Stetson admits no disposition to 
evade them, and if she nevertheless considers 
that women are hindered by no inherent dis- 
ability of sex from equalling the industrial 


achievements of men, it must be because 
she thinks the interruption of work in early 
middle life is of no great importance. The 
fact that whereas marriage generally stimu- 
lates a man to work more strenuously, it 
lessens a woman's power of concentrating 
her energies on her profession or industrial 
employment, must always handicap her in 
industrial competition with men. 

Again, in advocating that the varied occu- 
pations of the housewife or house servant 
should be exchanged for specialised employ- 
ment in large kitchens, in creches, in the 
bedrooms of apartment houses, she is really 
condemning women to a worse servitude 
than anything necessarily imposed by domes- 
tic service. The girl who is successful with 
two-year-old babies is to manage babies all 
day long, and for life, for creche experience 
does not qualify for admission to the kinder- 
garten or the high school, and marriage is 
to offer no release. The good cook is to 
live in a restaurant kitchen, cooking meals 
for all hours in the day. The professional 
chambermaid is expected to look forward to 
being a charwoman always. 


Mrs. Stetson has strange ideas about the 
effects of regular outside work : — 

'' The mother," she says, ''as a social servant instead 
of a house servant, will not lack in true mother duty. 
She will love her child as well, perhaps better, when she 
is not in hourly contact with it, when she goes from its 
life to her own life, and back from her own life to its life, 
with ever new delight and power. She can keep the deep 
thrilling joy of motherhood far fresher in her heart, far 
more vivid and open in voice and eyes and tender hands, 
when the hours of individual work give her mind another 
channel for her own part of the day. From her work, 
loved and honoured though it is, she will return to the 
home life, the child life, with an eager, ceaseless pleasure^ 
cleansed of all the fret and friction and weariness that so 
mar it now." 

This all sounds very beautiful, but is it 
true ? This is not the frame of mind in 
which men generally return from their work, 
but perhaps that is because they are only 
fathers. Nor am I acquainted with any 
well-paid work that one can love and 
honour all day long ; at best it is physically 
exhausting, and when it is not it is generally 
routine drudgery. Again, children have a 
way of choosing their own times for being 
affectionate, and the half hour or so their 
mother has to spare before it is their time 


to go to bed may be considered by them an 
inopportune time for endearments. The 
hardened babies who have found the day 
attractive enough without anybody's hugs 
and kisses may perhaps find their senti- 
mental mother's embraces an irritating 

I see no reason for believing that either 
wife, husband, or children will be anything 
but worse off if the wife goes outside the 
home to earn a living ; nor do I know of 
any skilled work for educated women, 
requiring daily assiduous attention for the 
whole day, in which maternity, or the possi- 
bility of maternity, would not be a drawback 
in the eyes of an experienced employer. It 
is conceivable that a married woman with 
capital might be successful as an employer 
herself, with the power to delegate her 
business supervision to others when neces- 
sary ; but I doubt whether she has ever 
done so with much success, except in cases, 
as in France, where the wife has generally 
been the assistant of her husband, or assisted 
by him. 

But the real value of Mrs. Stetson's 


argument is that by its absurdity it brings 
home to us with striking force a fact of 
which most middle-class people have only 
a sub-conscious knowledge — that, unfortu- 
nately, in England at any rate, what 
Mrs. Stetson calls the economic indepen- 
dence of the wife is in too many cases 
not an ideal, but a reality. 

Mrs. Stetson says that economic indepen- 
dence among human beings means that the 
individual pays for what he gets, works 
for what he gets, gives to the other an 
equivalent for what the other gives him. 
** As long as what I get is obtained by what 
I give," says Mrs. Stetson, ^' I am economi- 
cally independent.'' 

I do not accept this as a true definition of 
independence, but it is sufficient that this 
represents the ideal of independence that 
Mrs. Stetson desires. 

Well, nearly all unmarried women in 
England are self-supporting. The servant- 
keeping class is probably less than 12 per 
cent, of the population ; a considerable 
number of unmarried women even in these 
classes support themselves. It is only in 


this servant-keeping class that it has ever 
been true that there was no means for a 
woman to get a Hving except by marriage. 
And if in the classes below women have 
married in order to be relieved from working 
for their living, they have found that the 
married woman's life was harder, so far as 
work was concerned, than that of the un- 
married woman. Domestic servants, accus- 
tomed to luxurious living and comparative 
ease as professional servants, willingly con- 
sent to marry artisans on 255. a week, and 
to work harder than any maid-of-all-work 
would be asked to do. In factory districts 
a considerable percentage of the married 
women go out to work ; and there is no 
greater slave to her 'husband than the 
woman who receives no support from him. 

I am far from maintaining that a married 
woman should not do paid work. In all 
cases where a wife knows herself to be 
decidedly below par in housekeeping capacity, 
it is a natural enough thing that she should 
wish to make up for her expensiveness in 
this direction by earning some money by 
work for which she has more aptitude. But 


even in this case, unless she has some 
specially strong aptitude for some kind of 
highly-paid casual work, she would prob- 
ably be wiser to spend her energies in 
trying to make herself better fitted for her 
position of house mistress. 

'' The development of any human labour 
requires specialisation,'' says Mrs. Stetson. 
But the direction of human labour requires 
generalisation ; and the married woman, by 
giving up her post of general, will go down 
several grades in the army of workers. As 
it is, she alone amongst skilled workers can 
watch the development of human beings of 
both sexes at every stage ; the best fitted 
psychological laboratory in Germany cannot 
compete with the one that every married 
woman has at hand in which to study 
human nature, if only she has the intelli- 
gence to know it. Even the domestic 
servant system at its worst has at least one 
merit — that it prevents us from ever being 
able to shut our eyes to the great deficiencies 
in the education of the working classes. 
Dismiss our servants to the restaurant 
kitchen or the bedroom cleaners' supply 

E.W. K 


associations, and who knows what sham 
admiration of the working classes, and real 
apathy with regard to their welfare, may be 
developed ? 

The married woman who knows how to 
turn her experience to good advantage may 
eventually become a person of high industrial 
value. In a world where so many odd jobs 
which ought to be done are left undone, 
because all the experienced workers are 
permanently employed, the married woman 
with experience and judgment comes in as 
the right person in the right place. She is 
perhaps the only skilled casual worker. If 
there is no need for money, she should prove 
the best philanthropic worker, her position 
as mistress of a house making it possible 
for her to give a personal service in her own 
home which the official philanthropist must 
often regret she is unable to offer. And 
when her children really are old enough to 
be quite satisfactorily left to themselves and 
their teachers for the working day, I see no 
reason why the skilled married woman 
should not enter the labour market, and 
undertake the direction of one or other of 


those big institutions which Mrs. Stetson 
wishes to be universal, and which most of 
us regard as in some cases necessary. It is 
not permissible to serve two masters. The 
mother who thinks of earning her living 
must choose whether her children or the 
earning of an income shall be her first duty. 
If her children take the second place, she is 
worth nothing as a mother ; if they take the 
first place, she is worth little as an outside 
worker. But in later life the two occupa- 
tions need not clash. But although the 
elderly married woman may prove a valuable 
industrial organiser in the hotel, the resi- 
dential chambers company, the hospital, 
the orphanage, or the college, it will only 
be by having served her apprenticeship, 
and taken honours as a house mistress and 

I have not cared to discuss Mrs. Stetson's 
views on housekeeping. But I not only see 
room for improvement in the domestic 
organisation of working women's homes, 
but feel very hopeful of the power of women 
in the working classes to arrive at, at least, 
a partial solution of their difficulties by 

K 2 


co-operation in removing them. The most 
important result of the co-operative move- 
ment will, I believe, be the improvement of 
the conditions of home life, and the better 
organisation of the housework of the over- 
tasked wives of our artisans and clerks. 

There is much truth in Mrs. Stetson's 
criticisms of women's failures in every 
direction, but the remedy is better education 
and simpler tastes. It is only for the sake 
of her thesis that Mrs. Stetson finds fault 
with women or with men. She is generous 
in her estimate of the actual and possible 
capacities of both, and is full of high-minded 
delusions about them. '* Woman holds her 
great position as the selector of the best 
among competing males ; woman's beautiful 
work is to improve the race by right 

And not once does it cross her mind that 
most women are neither particularly attrac- 
tive nor particularly good, and that they have 
therefore neither the power nor the right to 
assume this lofty office. 

She is never so childlike as when she 
imagines she is most daring. And the charm 


of the book is its excessive femininity. What 
she says, even when not absolutely absurd, 
may be of little importance ; but her feeling 
is so genuine and strong as to merit respect 
and attention. 




November^ igoo. 

Looking back fifty years for the best 
picture of the middle-class woman's outlook 
on life, spreading itself before her after some 
startling shock of reality, none seems to me 
so true and so vivid as Caroline Helstone's 
vision of her own future given in ^^ Shirley.'* 
The book appeared in October, 1849. 

Although not so instinct with the flame of 
genius as '^ Villette," yet in some respects 
*' Shirley" is Charlotte Bronte's greatest 
work. Her other novels present life only as 
it appeared to an exceptional woman cut off 
by what was in those days called the 
*^ dependent situation " of a governess from 
wholesome relations with those about her. 
Jane Eyre and Lucy Snowe are the morbid 
products of life in institutions, and Charlotte 
Bronte, to whom family life was an imperative 


necessity, was fully conscious of their abnor- 
mality. In *^ Shirley" we have a broader, 
more sympathetic, in every way saner treat- 
ment of men and women. And the protest 
against the unnecessary tragedy of women's 
lives comes not from the passionate egotist 
of the schoolroom, but from the most lovable, 
perhaps the only lovable, woman in Charlotte 
Bronte's books. 

"I believe, in my heart, we were intended to prize 
life and enjoy it, so long as we retain it. Existence never 
was originally meant to be that useless, blank, pale, slow- 
trailing thing it often becomes to many, and is becoming 
to me among the rest. Nobody," she went on — *' nobody 
in particular is to blame, that I can see, for the state in 
which things are, and I cannot tell, however much I 
puzzle over it, how they are to be altered for the better ; 
but 1 feel there is something wrong somewhere. I believe 
single women should have more to do — better chances of 
interesting and profitable occupation than they possess 
now. . . . Look at the numerous families of girls in this 
neighbourhood — the Armitages, the Birtwhistles, the 
Sykes. The brothers of these girls are every one in 
business or in professions ; they have something to do ; 
their sisters have no earthly employment but household 
work and sewing, no earthly pleasure but an unprofitable 
visiting ; and no hope, in all their life to come, of any- 
thing better. This stagnant state of things makes them 
decline in health : they are never well ; and their minds 
and views shrink to wondrous narrowness. The great 


wish — the sole aim — of every one of them is to be married, 
but the majority will never marry; they will die as they 
now live. They scheme, they plot, they dress to ensnare 
husbands. The gentlemen turn them into ridicule : they 
don't want them ; they hold them very cheap. They say 
— I have heard them say it with sneering laughs many a 
time — the matrimonial market is overstocked. Fathers 
say so likewise, and are angry with their daughters when 
they observe their manoeuvres ; they order them to stay 
at home. What do they expect them to do at home ? If 
you ask, they would answer, sew and cook. They expect 
them to do this, and this only, contentedly, regularly, 
uncomplainingly, all their lives long, as if they had no 
germs of faculties for anything else — a doctrine as unrea- 
sonable to hold, as it would be that the fathers have no 
faculties but for eating what their daughters cook, or for 
wearing what they sew. Could men live so themselves ? 
Would they not be very weary ? And, when there came 
no relief to their weariness, but only reproaches at its 
slightest manifestation, would not their weariness ferment 
in time to frenzy ? '. . . King of Israel, your model of a 
woman is a worthy model. But are we, in these days, 
brought up to be like her ? Men of Yorkshire ! do your 
daughters reach this royal standard ? Can they reach it ? 
Can you help them to reach it ? Can you give them a 
field in which their faculties may be exercised and grow ? 
Men of England ! look at your poor girls, many of them 
fading around you, dropping off in consumption or 
decline ; or, what is worse, degenerating to sour old 
maids — envious, backbiting, wretched, because life is a 
desert to them ; or, what is worst of all, reduced to strive, 
by scarce modest coquetry and debasing artifice, to gain 
that position and consideration by marriage, which to 
celibacy is denied. Fathers ! cannot you alter these 


things ? Perhaps not all at once ; but consider the 
matter well when it is brought before you, receive it as a 
theme worthy of thought ; do not dismiss it with an idle 
jest or an unmanly insult. You would wish to be proud 
of your daughters and not to blush for them — then seek 
for them an interest and an occupation which shall raise 
them above the flirt, the manoeuvrer, the mischief-making 
tale-bearer. Keep your girls' minds narrow and fettered 
— they will still be a plague and a care, sometimes a dis- 
grace to you. Cultivate them, give them scope and work 
— they will be your gayest companions in health, your ten- 
derest nurses in sickness, your most faithful prop in age/' 

And Mary Taylor — Rose Yorke in ** Shir- 
ley'' — added, '* Make us efficient workers, 
able to earn our living in order that we may 
be good, useful, healthy, self-respecting 

How far have we travelled in these fifty 
years towards Mary Taylor's ideal ? How 
far is it accepted as a right one ? Is it now 
considered a sufficiently ambitious one ? 

There is no doubt that we have travelled 
much nearer to it than anyone in 1850 
would have foreseen, and further than many 
pioneers at that period would have desired. 

We may safely assert that no middle-class 
woman of average intelligence, educated in 
the high schools established during the last 


twenty-five years, is unable to earn a living 
if she chooses to do so. And one very 
important change has taken place. Whereas 
thirty years ago it was the rule for many 
parents, although with little hope of be- 
queathing an income to their daughters, to 
support them at home in expectation of their 
marriage, this lack of foresight is becoming 
rare. Our schools are no longer staffed by 
women who have begun their work in life 
driven to it by necessity or disappointment. 
More and more it is being recognised by 
parents that girls should be fitted to be 
self-supporting ; and the tendency among 
the girls themselves is to concentrate their 
energies on the profession they take up, and 
to regard marriage as a possibility which 
may some day call them away from the path 
they are pursuing, but which should not be 
allowed to interfere with their plans in the 

At the period of life, then, when there is 
the most opportunity of marriage there is 
now the least excuse for the woman who 
marries merely to obtain a livelihood. The 
economic advance has at least been sufficient 


to enable women to preserve their self- 

Next it must be admitted that the work 
which educated women are paid to do is in 
the main useful and satisfying work. They 
no longer think of supporting themselves by 
acting as useful companions to useless 
women ; nor do they have to spend their 
time in imperfectly imparting valueless facts 
in the schoolroom. The teaching and 
nursing professions, which include more 
educated women in their ranks than any 
other, have made great advances. In both 
every worker who wishes to be efficient can 
make herself so, and while youth and health 
last those occupations are absorbing enough 
in themselves to be worth living for. 

At the same time, the women who succeed 
in either of these callings must be above the 
average in ability. The merely average girl 
must turn to some occupation in which more 
people are wanted, but for which less excep- 
tional skill is required. Generally she looks 
for it in one of two directions : she either 
becomes a clerk or some kind of domestic 
help. Failing marriage, the latter occupation 


offers chances, but not certainties, of making 
warm friends, and having abiding human 
interests. But clerical work in the case of 
the average woman can rarely be in itself 
satisfying ; it is a means, not an end. 

And here lies the great difference between 
men and women in the labour market. All 
that the average man demands is that his 
work should be honest and remunerative. It 
need not be interesting, or elevating, or 
heroic. Most women, on the other hand, 
who look forward to a long working career 
must have an occupation to which they can 
give both heart and mind. The reason is 
simple. The woman is living an isolated life; 
unless her work involves the exercise of what 
may be termed her maternal faculties, she is 
living an unnatural life. Men, on the other 
hand, whatever be their employment, are 
generally husbands and fathers. What they 
earn is of more importance than what 
they do. 

In measuring women's economic advance 
this need for a human interest in their work 
must never be forgotten. Of any occupation 
it must be asked, What does it offer to 


women when the novelty has worn off, and 
they realise that for twenty or thirty years 
more nearly all their time must be given to it ? 

Another fact, too, must be remembered — 
that although high pay may compensate for 
uninteresting work, a woman will never be 
worth high pay if the work does not interest 
her. And we find, therefore, the paradoxical 
result that, generally speaking, the women 
who earn the highest incomes are the women 
who have chosen their work for the work's 

Taking these points into consideration, I 
am inclined to think that we have made 
sufficient economic progress to be ^^ good, 
useful, healthy and self-respecting '' up to 
the age of thirty. But the great mass of 
middle-class women, if fated to earn their 
living as middle-aged spinsters, would, I am 
afraid, be unable to earn an income sufficient 
to keep either their utility or their health up 
to the standard. 

But optimists may fairly urge that the 
majority will not be called upon to go 
through this ordeal. The average woman 
marries ; it is the exceptionally intellectual 


or the exceptionally feeble-minded who do 
not. The latter will be looked after by 
society, and the former can hold her own. 

That is true to some extent. But while I 
think we have made great strides in the 
right direction, I think we have some 
serious truths to face. We are constantly 
congratulating ourselves that our middle- 
aged spinsters have nothing in common 
with the old maid of the past, while we 
assume that the next half-century will see 
a still greater exaltation of the maiden lady. 
I doubt it very much, unless much more 
thought and effort are given to making the 
duller girls industrially competent. 

Our pioneers were full of enthusiasm in 
their journey to the promised land where 
sex barriers should be removed and sex 
prejudices die away. Those of us who 
passed through the gates which they opened 
for us were (I am afraid it must be admitted) 
often unpopular among those we left behind 
and were delighted with the novelty of the 
country before us. The next generation are 
coming into the field under new conditions. 
To begin with, it is realised that work is 


work ; next, that economic liberty is only 
obtained by the sacrifice of personal free- 
dom ; that there is nothing very glorious in 
doing work that any average man can do as 
well, now that we are no longer told we 
cannot do it. The glamour of economic 
independence has faded, although the neces- 
sity for it is greater than ever. Further, 
although it used to be true that a smaller 
proportion of the girls who distinguished 
themselves most at school and at college 
married than was the case among the girls 
in the lower forms, this no longer holds 
good. Now that all girls, as a matter of 
course, are taught Latin and mathematics, 
they are no longer regarded as necessarily 
disagreeable in consequence ; nor is inability 
to do their school work considered a merit. 
Large numbers of middle-class women must 
remain unmarried, but there seem to me to 
be many signs that it is no longer the Sixth 
Form girl, but her duller schoolfellow, who 
must be trained to make her way alone in 
the world. 

And this after all means progress for the 

or THE ^ 



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